FBI and State Officials Seek Horses Removed from Quarantine After Testing Positive for Disease in Missouri

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The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced on Friday that two quarantined horses that tested positive for equine piroplasmosis are missing from a Raytown, Missouri equine center, located in Jackson County. Equine piroplasmosis is a bloodborne disease only transmitted to horses by ticks and mechanically from animal to animal by contaminated needles. Humans are at no risk of being affected by this disease.

On June 4, the Department of Agriculture was notified of a piroplasmosis-positive horse and immediately took action by placing a quarantine on the Raytown Equine Center; all of the horses at the facility were put on 24-hour surveillance. The quarantine, enacted by the Missouri State Veterinarian, was put in place to prevent movement of any horses from the equine center. Two horses were illegally removed from the premises Wednesday night, when locks were cut from building doors and stalls. These horses are micro-chipped.

The Department is working with local, county and state officials as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation to locate the horses.

Seven horses tested positive for equine piroplasmosis on June 9. Thursday, with consent of the horse's owners, five piroplasmosis-positive horses were euthanized. An equine piroplasmosis-infected horse will show symptoms in mild forms such as weakness and lack of appetite. More acute cases include fever, anemia, jaundice, a swollen abdomen and labored breathing. Horses that survive the acute phase of infection may continue to carry the parasites for long periods of time. There is no cure for equine piroplasmosis.

For more information, please contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture at (573) 751-3377, which supplied the information for this blog post through its Missouri Ag Connection network.