Articles: Press Release
Tick-Transmitted Horse Disease Detected on South Texas Ranch
Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242,
ext. 710, or firstname.lastname@example.org
A tick-borne disease known as equine piroplasmosis has been confirmed on a
ranch in South Texas. Additional testing is being conducted to determine
the extent of infection. Horses on the ranch are quarantined to their
premises, and a thorough disease investigation is underway.
Equine piroplasmosis can affect horses, donkeys, mules or zebras and cause
clinical signs common to many diseases, including poor appetite and weight
Death losses can occur. Some infected equine animals may exhibit few or no
signs of disease. Those animals that survive the acute phase of infection
continue to carry the parasite, which has been identified as Theileria equi
(formerly known as Babesia equi), for long periods of time.
Although equine piroplasmosis is not considered to be endemic in the U.S.,
cases h ave been detected on occasion, said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas state
veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission, the states
livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. In June, equine
piroplasmosis was detected in Missouri, with a related case found in
Kansas. In 2008, the infection was detected in Florida. These cases have
As many as 15 tick species are capable of carrying and transmitting the
blood parasite responsible for causing equine piroplasmosis, Dr. Hillman
At this time, we do not know which species of tick is responsible for
transmitting infection on the South Texas ranch. Additional blood and
tick samples are being collected and will be submitted for analysis to the
National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.
Dr. Hillman said there is no vaccine for equine piroplasmosis, and treatment
generally is not effective against this tick-borne infection. To avoid
spread of the disease, it is important to eliminate contact with ticks and
to prevent the transfer of blood from one equine animal to another.
Equine owners may want to consult with their veterinarians for
recommendations on preventing tick infestation, said Dr. Hillman. If equine
animals exhibit signs of illness, a veterinarian should be contacted, so
appropriate samples may be collected for laboratory testing. Currently, we
have no indication that this
tick-transmitted disease has occurred at other sites in Texas, but
maintaining vigilance for this blood parasite is necessary in determining
the extent of this disease situation.