On Jan. 25, the members of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) voted to lift the testing requirement for equine piroplasmosis (EP) at Indiana race tracks, beginning Feb. 1.
Two years ago, in response to a growing number of cases of the disease at Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse race tracks around the country, Board members imposed a testing requirement to protect Indiana's racing industry. However, since then, awareness of the disease and increased testing and prevention efforts have reduced the number of cases dramatically.
Since the risk of acquiring EP has declined, BOAH opted to eliminate the testing requirement in time for this year's racing season. The change is expected to save race horse owners between $211,250 and $390,000 in testing expenses annually.
Equine piroplasmosis is caused by two organisms, Theileria equi and Babesia caballi. Although EP is primarily transmitted to horses by ticks, this blood-borne disease has been spread mechanically from animal to animal via contaminated blood and syringes/needles. Once infected, a horse might not show signs of disease for seven to 22 days, and some horses may never show any clinical signs. Cases of EP can be mild or acute. In its mild form, EP causes the horse to appear weak and to show a lack of appetite. Acutely affected equids can have fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes, swollen abdomens, and labored breathing. The disease can also cause a roughened hair coat, constipation, and colic.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.