Feb 3, 2010 1:11 PM by Elaine Sheridan
A disease in horses that was considered "officially eradicated" from the United States is back, and in a big way.
Equine Piroplasmosis is deadly horse disease that kills as many as 20 percent of the horses that it infects and it has now been confirmed in 13 states: Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
Most of the cases are in Texas. Nearly 400 cases of the disease have been confirmed in recent months. Of those, 289 are on the famous King Ranch in South Texas, and many of the cases in the other states have been linked to that ranch as well. But in a completely separate case 13 horses tested positive as part of a routine racetrack screening program in New Mexico. The source of that infection is unknown. Five of the positive horses were euthanized, and the others remain under quarantine.
Right now the Colorado Department of Agriculture is requiring specific tests for horses coming from infected areas in Texas.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association Equine Piroplasmosis is caused parasites in the blood which can be spread by ticks and other biting insects and the use of contaminated needles. The disease can be tough to diagnose because the symptoms are common in other diseases with problems,such as fever or anemia, and some infected horses might appear healthy. Blood tests are needed to diagnosis the disease. The only treatment is a potent type of chemotherapy that can have serious side effects in some horses.