Can horses get EPM from raccoons?

Researchers at the USDA and The Ohio State University (OSU) have found that the raccoon can serve as an intermediate host for Sarcocystis neurona, the single-celled protozoan parasite that causes the neurological disease equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM).

What animals can transmit EPM?

A few types of wild animals and all opossums can be the carrier of the protozoa for EPM. While other animals may carry the protozoa in their body, only opossums can transmit EPM. 1 The feces of opossums contain sporocysts and that is how they transmit the disease.

How is EPM transmitted to horses?

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is caused by the protozoal parasites Sarcocystis neurona and Neospora hughesi, although most cases are due to S. neurona. The definitive host for S. neurona is the opossum, and horses become infected when they ingest feed or water contaminated with opossum feces.

What are the signs of EPM in horses?

Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of EPM

  • Ataxia (incoordination), spasticity (stiff, stilted movements), abnormal gait or lameness.
  • Incoordination and weakness which worsens when going up or down slopes or when head is elevated.
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Can EPM be passed from horse to horse?

The disease is not transmitted from horse to horse. Rather, the protozoa are spread by the definitive host, the opossum, which acquires the organism from cats, raccoons, skunks and armadillos and possibly even from harbor seals and sea otters.

Can you vaccinate against EPM?

18, 2000, a vaccine to prevent EPM was approved by the USDA. As of Jan. 25, a total of 43 states had approved the use of the EPM vaccine under USDA conditional licensure. The vaccine must be used under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Can EPM in horses be prevented?

A medication commonly used to treat equine protozoal myeloencephalitis may also help prevent the disease. A medication used to treat equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) also shows promise as a preventive for young horses, according to new research from the University of California—Davis.

Is EPM contagious to humans?

Yes. People can get sarcocystosis. They acquire the disease by ingesting (oral) the protozoan, most common- ly through undercooked meat prod- ucts. Disease in humans can involve either intestinal infection or muscular invasion by the parasite.

Is there a vaccination for EPM in horses?

EPM treatment protocols are extremely expensive with no real guarantees the horse will recover, so prevention through a vaccine is attractive and Fort Dodge’s vaccine is the only available option.

What disease do opossums carry that kills horses?

And one common neurological disease affecting American horses is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). Horses may develop EPM after ingesting feed or water contaminated with Sarcocystis neurona, a one-celled organism called a protozoan, that is spread by opossums and carried by other animals.

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How quickly does EPM progress?

Our results indicate that EPM can manifest as long as 90 days after the parasite has crossed the blood-brain barrier (data not shown), but in most of the challenged horses evidence of infection occurred within 30 days and ataxia was present by 60 days.

Can a horse get EPM twice?

A: The short answer is, yes, horses with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) can relapse.

Does EPM in horses cause weight loss?

Several factors could be contributing to her weight loss. Because she is a low-ranking horse in the herd, she may not be getting all the hay that is offered to her. Additionally, EPM can lead to both muscle and weight loss, and pain associated with arthritis can also cause weight loss or prevent weight gain.

What should I feed my horse with EPM?

High quality, highly palatable forage should be fed as many horses with EPM suffer weight loss. High fat and soluble fiber rations should be utilized when feeding horses that are recovering from EPM. Excellent quality protein and amino acids are required to help rebuild damaged nerve and muscle tissue.