The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Fort Dodge Laboratories, Inc., has been issued a conditional license for a vaccine intended to aid in the prevention of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, more commonly known as EPM.
A Fort Dodge, Iowa-based division of American Home Products, Inc., Fort Dodge Laboratories was issued the conditional license from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under its regulatory authority to "meet an emergency condition, limited market, local situation, or other special circumstances," the announcement said.
"Under these regulations, a product that is shown to be pure and safe and demonstrates a reasonable expectation of efficacy may be licensed while data to establish efficacy and potency are obtained," said
Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for APHIS' veterinary services program.
EPM is a debilitating and sometimes fatal neurologic disease of horses linked to infection by a protozoal parasite most often identified as Sarcosystis neurona
. Opossums and birds are the normal hosts for S. neurona
; horses can become infected by ingesting the organism in food or water contaminated by opossum fecal material. In some cases, infection by the parasite might result in damage to the central nervous system, particularly the spinal cord.