There has been a report of piroplasmosis at an Ocala area Hospital. Here is an excerpt from the FAEP report.
Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) is a blood-borne parasitic disease which is caused by two
organisms, Theileria equi (formerly Babesia equi) and Babesia caballi. It is primarily
transmitted to horses by ticks; however, the disease can be spread mechanically from
animal to animal by contaminated needles. The disease was eradicated from Florida in the 1980's and the tick species generally believed to transmit this disease in other countries have not been identified in Florida in many years. This disease is not directly contagious from one horse to another but requires direct blood transfer. Human infection with equine piroplasmosis is extremely rare. Acutely affected horses can have depression, fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes and low platelet counts. Equine Piroplasmosis can also cause horses to have roughened hair coats, constipation, and colic.
In its milder form, Equine Piroplasmosis causes horses to appear weak and show lack of appetite. Some horses become chronic carriers of the disease. As EP is considered a foreign animal disease and is reportable in Florida, we are asking veterinarians to report any horses suspect for the disease. Reporting can be done Monday- Friday 8:00am-5:00pm by calling (850) 410-0900 or faxing to (850) 410-0915. After hours reporting may be done by calling (800) 342-5869 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thus far none of the ticks tested have been found to be positive ...so that is a good thing. The BIG question is ...where did it come from". Did the infected tick somehow make it into Florida from outside the country or is it possible that the organism was not fully eradicated 20 years ago like we thought.
As Veterinarians we must constantly be on the look-out for potential diseases such as this. It is possible that cases have gone undiagnosed that were thought to be something else. The case in Ocala presented as a Hemolytic crisis which could be caused by several diseases, fortunately someone was looking and spotted characteristic changes on a blood smear.
Since EP can look like something benign like a rough hair coat and weight loss it is important to point out changes that you see and look for the cause....don't just let it go.
Heres what you need to do.
Recommendations for Your Equine Clients: Monitor your horse for the presence of ticks. Use commercially available topical products labeled for ticks if your horse is in an area where tick infestation is a problem. Most of these products are synthetic pyrethrins. Include an avermectin product in your deworming program to provide systemic treatment for ticks. Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure.
If you find large numbers of ticks or suspect piroplasmosis, please contact your
veterinarian. Do not share needles between animals during the administration of any medication mor vaccinations. EP and other diseases can be spread by the introduction of blood cells from an infected animal into an uninfected animal during routine administration of injectable medications. Continue your normal equine activities.
Additional updates and information will be posted to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry web site at: