17 horses test positive for equine piroplasmosis in Tennessee

August 17, 2016

State veterinarians office investigating the incident.

The state veterinarian's office in Tennessee is investigating an outbreak of equine piroplasmosis (EP) in a group of racing quarter horses, according to an agency release. All 17 horses that have tested positive are associated with the same facility in Rutherford County.

EP is a parasite that can be transmitted through infected ticks, as well as through blood and blood products by the sharing of needles, syringes or improperly cleaned and disinfected dental, surgical or blood product equipment between infected and uninfected horses.

Clinical signs of infection range from weakness and lack of appetite to limb swelling and labored breathing, the release states. It can take as long as 30 days for an infected horse to test positive for the disease after exposure; it is then quarantined and may be euthanized. Horses that survive the acute phase continue to carry the parasite for an extended period of time.  

The state veterinarian's office says that while horses will not transmit the disease to other horses through casual contact, it's important that the handlers of those horses 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.