The Tennessee State Veterinarian’s office is investigating an outbreak of equine piroplasmosis (EP) in a group of racing Quarter Horses in Tennessee.
EP is a blood parasite that affects equines. Although it can be transmitted through infected ticks, today it is more commonly spread by blood and blood products through the sharing of needles, syringes or improperly cleaned and disinfected dental, tattoo, surgical or blood product equipment between infected and uninfected horses.
Seventeen horses have tested positive for EP in Middle Tennessee. All are connected to the same location in Rutherford County. The investigation is ongoing.
It may take as long as 30 days for an infected horse to test positive for the disease after exposure. Early clinical signs can range from weakness and lack of appetite to swelling of limbs and labored breathing. Horses that survive the acute phase continue to carry the parasite for an extended period of time. Horses that test positive for the disease are quarantined and may be euthanized.
Horses will not transmit the disease to other horses through casual contact. However, it is critical that horse handlers practice good biosecurity. If a needle is required, use a new sterile needle and syringe on every horse and clean and disinfect all equine equipment that may be contaminated with blood. Learn how to protect your horses from EP.
Some states and equine competitions require EP testing for entrance. If you plan to travel with your horse, check with the receiving state for current import requirements.
The state veterinarian is responsible for monitoring for and preventing the spread of animal disease, as well as promoting animal health in Tennessee. The office works with private veterinarians, animal pathologists and disease diagnostic laboratories to identify diseases and determine the cause of animal deaths.