Piroplasmosis at Calder, Four Euthanized

Non-contagious disease spread due to bad barn management, says association.

Four horses stabled at Calder Casino & Race Course tested positive for equine piroplasmosis (EP), a tick-borne non-contagious blood disease. Their owner decided to have the horses euthanized.

Equine piroplasmosis results from infection by the protozoa Babesia caballi or Theileria equi (formerly Babesia equi). In most cases, piroplasmosis presents as an acute infection, with fever, loss of appetite, malaise, labored or rapid respiration and congestion of the mucus membranes. In rare cases the disease can be fatal.

The Florida Veterinary Medical Association announced the test results Sept. 24. Calder on Sept. 25 said the owner, who it did not identify, chose euthanizing the horses rather than the other options of permanent quarantine or export out of the United States. The horses were trained by Giuseppe Iadisernia.

The Miami Gardens, Fla., track placed the four infected horses and 116 others under racing and training restrictions while they were being tested. The Florida Veterinary Medical Association said it found no evidence of ticks and test results showed the other 116 horses were not infected. Calder placed those horses under racing and training restrictions for 30 days, beginning Sept. 25.

Broad testing was done after a horse that moved recently from New Mexico to Florida tested positive for the EP virus, according to the Florida Veterinary Medical Association. The association tested 42 horses in the Calder barn where Iadisernia’s horses are stabled and 78 horses at Racetrack Training Center, which is adjacent to that barn. That training center is not owned or operated by Calder.

In a statement, the medical association said “it is believed that the disease has been spread by management practices that involve the transfer of blood from infected horses to non-infected horses.”

The association implemented racing and training restrictions Sept. 12 on the 120 horses being tested.

The following restrictions are in effect through Oct. 25:
*The 116 horses will not be allowed to race.
*Horses in the Calder barn will not be able to leave Calder or train during regular training hours.
*Horses at the training center will not be able to leave that premises, or train at Calder.

There are no restrictions on the approximately 1,750 other horses at Calder and no restrictions on hoses being permitted to ship into Calder.

The Florida Veterinary Medical Association said that after the 30 days of restrictions the 116 horses “will be retested to ensure they are negative for EP.  Further investigation is being conducted to and will include tracing and testing of animals that may have been exposed to the EP organism.”

Calder has live racing Thursdays through Sundays at its Calder meet, which runs through Oct. 17. It will add Mondays to its schedule during the Tropical meet, which will run from Oct. 21 through Jan. 3, 2011.