Last weekend two additional horse facilities in Florida were identified as being exposed to Equine Piroplasmosis (EP), according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The disease is believed to be spreading via horse movement in the Manatee County area. The latest premises, located in Dade and Lake Counties, were quarantined after finding that one horse at each location tested positive for EP.
These cases bring the total number of quarantined premises to 19 and the number of horses testing positive to 20, on 6 of the quarantined premises. All of the horses testing positive are closely linked via movement and common premises.
Because there is a close association between all 20 positive horses, the spread of the disease is believed to be due to management practices, such as the improper use of hypodermic needles, that result in the transfer of whole blood between horses.
State health authorities report that tick trapping and surveillance is ongoing but no foreign ticks have been found and no domestic ticks have tested positive for the organism that causes EP.
Canada has issued an order banning entry from any horse shipments originating in Manatee County.
EP was believed to have been in control in the USA for the past 20 years or so. It is a disease carefully monitored by health officials. The USDA has strict import rules about horses coming from countries where EP is found. Finding it here was a big surprise for everyone, and a health concern that complicates the big picture of equine disease in this country.