A total of 747 equines on 283 premises have been tested in Kleberg County, Texas, as part of the county-wide testing effort targeting the disease, equine piroplasmosis.
Of the premises and animals tested to date, 19 horses across six premises have tested positive.
The Texas Animal Health Commission designated Kleberg County, in the south of the state, as high risk for exposure to equine piroplasmosis in March.
As a result, it began mandatory testing of all equines in the county on April 8.
The initial Kleberg County test zones extended south from Escondido Creek to the Kleberg-Kenedy county line.
Equine Piroplasmosis is a blood-borne protozoal disease that can affect all equines, but is not transmissible to humans.
Through research, a treatment protocol has been developed that can often clear the infection and lead to the release of horses that tested positive.
The disease is currently not considered endemic in Texas or the US. However, isolated outbreaks of the disease such as in Kleberg County have occurred.
It can be transmitted from a positive horse to a negative horse by blood transfer from dirty instruments or by tick vectors. South Texas has a large and diverse population of ticks.
Horses visiting pastures with infected tick populations can become infected as a result. Once positive horses are treated or removed, the tick populations within those pastures free themselves of the disease in about a year, and it will be safe to put negative horses back in the pasture.
“Because Piro is considered a foreign animal disease to the US, it is important we make every effort to find undetected cases in the area,” said Texas state veterinarian Dr Dee Ellis.
“We believe the Piro situation related to tick transmission in Texas is limited to just a few south Texas counties.”
The commission is asking for the support of local horse owners to ensure this testing effort is a success.
Horse owners are also encouraged to discuss the situation with their local veterinarian.
The commission hopes to wrap up testing in the southern part of the county by the end of May, where about 30 premises remain to be tested.
Region 5 director Dr T.R. Lansford said: “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the equine owners and veterinary practitioners of Kleberg County, and the high level of voluntary compliance with the mandatory testing requirement.
“We look forward to working with the remaining owners of untested equine and the local veterinarians as we strive to complete the area test in Kleberg County. It is important that all equines are tested as soon as possible.”
The next efforts will involve testing the northern part of Kleberg County. All equine owners in the county who have not had their equine tested are strongly encouraged to contact the commission as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. Equine owners can call (361) 676-0979 to set up an appointment. The test is free.
Kleberg County equine owners and/or veterinary practitioners who have questionsshould contact the TAHC Region 5 Office in Beeville at (361) 676-0979. For more information on Piroplasmosis they can also visit www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/equine/piro.html.