October 3, 2008 — A disease that was eradicated in the US more than 25 years ago has once again reared its ugly head. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (DOACS) reported in September that 20 horses have tested positive for equine piroplasmosis. The disease is caused by two tick-borne parasites, Theileria equi and Babesia caballi, but can also be spread through the transfer of blood via shared needles. Approximately half of the horses infected with the disease die from it.
DOACS noted that all of the positive horses are closely linked to one another. Because of this, the disease is believed to have spread via management practices that resulted in the transfer of blood between horses. DOACS said tick trapping and surveillance efforts are ongoing. No foreign ticks have been found, and none of the domestic ticks captured have tested positive for the organism that causes the disease.
For the latest on the outbreak in Florida, visit www.doacs.state.fl.us.