What does a horse with EPM look like?

Muscle atrophy, most noticeable along the topline or in the large muscles of the hindquarters, but can sometimes involve the muscles of the face or front limbs. Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears or lips. Difficulty swallowing. Seizures or collapse.

How fast 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.

Are horses in pain with EPM?

Here is a discussion of a complete neurological exam and the symptoms of EPM. The most common symptoms are some degree of lack of coordination: perhaps stumbling more than before, slipping easily, bumping into trees on the trail, dragging toes like your horse is, and back or muscle soreness for no apparent reason.

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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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.

Can EPM come on suddenly?

The onset of the disease may be slow or sudden. If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological damage.

Can horses get EPM from hay?

A: The main protozoan that causes EPM, Sarcocystis neurona, is found in the scat of some opossums. The horse eats feed (hay or grain/concentrates) that is contaminated with S. neurona from opossum feces, and the protozoa gains entrance into the horse’s blood through the intestinal tract.

How long can horses have EPM?

Consensus statement authors say most horses with EPM are treated for six to eight weeks or longer, if clinical improvement is still apparent under treatment.

Is there a cure for EPM in horses?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

At this time there is no vaccine or known preventative available for EPM in horses; however, you can take some precautions to limit your horse’s exposure to infected opossum feces.

What are signs of EPM?

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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Is there a vaccine for EPM in horses?

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.