Virginia Issues Potomac Horse Fever Alert
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (July 15) announced that the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the Marion DuPont Equine Medical Center have been contacted about several confirmed cases of Potomac Horse Fever in central Virginia.
The Leesburg equine center is one of three campuses of the regional veterinary medical center and Interim Director Dr. Michael Erskine confirmed that the EMC had treated a couple of cases recently. “But the hospital population has not been indundated,” he said.
The disease is not contagious although it can be fatal. Cases are not required to be reported to the state veterinarian’s office,. VDACS Director of Communications Elaine Lidholm said the alert was issued to ensure horse owners in Virginia are aware of the potential for disease.
The disease is caused by multiple strains of the organism Neorickettsia risticii. It lives in a developmental stage of a freshwater fluke, or worm, which infects aquatic snails and insects. Horses become infected by ingesting infected snails, snail slime and/or aquatic insects as they grave and drink, most likely through ingesting infect adult flies as they can travel some distance from the water source where they originated and then contaminate water or food sources on the farm.
Editors note: Although the article is dated July 15, it is always good to know what diseases are in your area, as they may not be dormant. You can check out outbreak-alert.com to see what alerts are in your area.