How does a horse contract EPM?

The horse comes into contact with the infective sporocysts while grazing or eating contaminated feed or drinking water. Once ingested, the sporocysts migrate from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream and cross the blood/brain barrier. There they begin to attack the horse’s central nervous system.

How does a horse get EPM?

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.

How do you prevent EPM in horses?

Prevention. As horses most commonly come into contact with SN by ingesting feed or water containing opossum feces, prevention relies on reducing the chances of opossum feces being present. Focus on avoiding attracting opossums to horse feeding areas, and preventing them from accessing those areas if they do arrive.

Can a horse get EPM from hay?

Find out the most common way horses contract equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM. … 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.

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What animals can give horses EPM?

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, is caused by Sarcocystis neurona protozoa. Carried by opossums and shed in their feces, S. neurona is frequently spread to raccoons and skunks when these animals consume opossum droppings.

Can horses recover from EPM?

Horses that have mild symptoms and are treated early have the best prognosis. In fact, 80% to 90% recover completely. Horses that have mild cases tend to have a lower rate of relapse. If your horse has a severe case of EPM, the prognosis is not as good.

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.

Is it safe to ride a horse with EPM?

EPM can cause nerve damage, so a reader wonders if an affected horse can be rehabilitated. … For horses that do recover, the improvement is based on the initial severity of the clinical signs (see box). However, not all horses that “improve” according to the clinical scale are able to be safely ridden again.

Is there a vaccine to prevent EPM in horses?

On Dec. 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.

What does EPM look like in horses?

Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face, or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears, or lips; Loss of sensation of the face; Difficulty swallowing; and. Head tilt with poor balance—the horse might assume a splay-footed stand or lean against stall walls for support.

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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.

How much does it cost to test a horse for EPM?

The test costs $61 per sample and the results usually come back within a week. Spinal tapping allows your veterinarian to look at your horse’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

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 possum kill a horse?

Bottom line: Yes, opossums are the culprit that transmits the causative parasite of EPM to horses.

What causes wobbler syndrome in horses?

The exact cause of wobbler syndrome in horses is unknown. It is believed that the syndrome is caused by genetic predisposition, feeding excessive amounts of energy and other nutrients, rapid growth, physical trauma, decreased copper/ increased zinc levels, or a combination of these factors.

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