Ten things you may not have known about equine piroplasmosis:
- Equine piroplasmosis (EP) is transmitted via tick bites or through mechanical transmission by improperly disinfected needles or surgical instruments.
- The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services program protects the U.S. equine industry against the entry and spread of EP.
- EP is a tick-borne disease caused by the parasites Babesia caballi and B. equi.
- An EP-infected horse can take 7 to 22 days to show signs of the disease.
- If an outbreak of EP occurs, APHIS must notify the World Organization for Animal Health and indicate the steps it is taking to eradicate the disease.
- Currently, there is no vaccine for EP.
- EP is not endemic to Australia, Canada, England, Iceland, Ireland, and Japan.
- Horses that survive the acute phase of infection may continue to carry the parasites for long periods of time.
- Because the clinical signs for EP are non-specific and similar to many other diseases and conditions, it is difficult to diagnose.
- Signs of the acute phase of EP include fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes, a swollen abdomen, labored breathing, central nervous system disturbances, roughened-hair coats, constipation, colic, and hemoglobinuria.
Equine piroplasmosis is not endemic to the United States, but there is an ongoing outbreak with its epicenter at King Ranch in Texas. The majority of the cases are on King Ranch, but it's a huge operation that sells horses all over the country, and they unwittingly sent infected horses all over the country. Infected horses have been found with EP in twelve states, and in every case the infection can be traced back to King Ranch. Yet another in a long line of reasons we never should have let Texas back into the Union after the Civil War.