Canada Restricts Importation of Texas Horses

Equine piroplasmosis reason for the move.

By Erin Ryder

Due to the ongoing investigation into equine piroplasmosis in Texas, Canada has restricted the importation of horses from that state.

The American Horse Council said in a statement that effective October 21, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not endorse any export health certificates for equines to Canada from Texas. Equines being exported to Canada from other states must have additional certification that during the previous 21 days the animal has not been in the state of Texas. This restriction is in place until further notice.

As of an Oct. 20 report issued to the World Organization for Animal Health by Dr. John Clifford, deputy administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 32 horses had tested positive for equine piroplasmosis, and results on another 96 were pending.

Equine piroplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by either of two protozoal parasites that attack the red blood cells. Affected animals can exhibit fever, anemia, weight loss, jaundice, and, in some cases, clinical signs lead to death. The case fatality rate can be up to 20% in naive horses (those that have never been exposed), and some infected equine animals might exhibit few or no signs of disease.

The only treatment is a potent type of chemotherapy that can have serious side effects in some horses. The disease is spread by ticks, the use of contaminated needles, and possibly through blood-contaminated semen of infected stallions. Officials in the United States have screened all imported horses for piroplasmosis for nearly 30 years.

Equine piroplasmosis was officially eradicated from the United States in 1988.