Owner system

Central Nervous System Infections In Horses Can Be Prevented | Local news

Equine protozoan myeloencephalitis or EPM is an infection of the central nervous system by a protozoan parasite called Sarcocystis neurona. The infection causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

EPM is one of the most common neurological diseases in horses. A large number of horses are exposed to EPM, but few actually develop clinical disease.

Clinical signs are similar to wobbler syndrome, spinal cord injuries, equine herpesvirus, eastern or western encephalitis, rabies, and West Nile. Signs of the central nervous system may appear suddenly or gradually. Subtle signs may include atrophy of the croup and facial muscles.

Neurological signs may begin with an abnormal gait, incoordination, weakness, lameness, tilting of the head, stiffness, (ataxia) a voluntary lack of coordination of muscle movements and an inability to stand or stand up. .

Horses between the ages of 1 and 6 are more likely to be affected, but all ages of horses can be infected.

The protozoan spreads from the opossum in the faeces. The feces are then consumed by the horse by grazing on infected pastures, ingesting infected feed, or drinking contaminated water. The protozoan migrates from the intestinal tract into the blood, then infects the brain and spinal cord.

Horses show signs quite quickly when exposed. Tests can be done using serum or cerebrospinal fluid. There are different tests available, but none of the tests are 100%. Most of them only show exposure to protozoa.

Since no test, whether done with blood or cerebrospinal fluid, is perfect, it is best to interpret the results with clinical signs. Positive test results for neurological signs usually confirm a case of EPM. Negative test results can usually rule out infection with EPM. It is best to consult your veterinarian to find out which tests and samples would be best for your particular situation.

Without treatment, EPM will progress to a debilitating and potentially fatal condition. The treatment is in the form of granules or paste and should be given for at least 28 days. Most horses improve on a neurological grade, which means severely affected horses will not make a full recovery.

Mildly affected horses are more likely to recover completely or almost completely, therefore early diagnosis and treatment is imperative.

Relapses have been observed in mildly and severely affected horses. It has been found that stressors trigger these relapses.

There are a few things you can do to prevent your horse from being exposed to EPM. Natural water sources such as ponds, streams, and rivers are excellent habitat for opossums. Preventing your horse from drinking from these potentially contaminated water sources would be ideal. Secure food and water sources from possible fecal contamination by the opossum.

Dr Shana Bohac is a veterinarian and owner of the Navarro Small Animal Clinic.