NASHVILLE - The State Veterinarian is advising all horse owners to be alert as Potomac horse fever has been confirmed in a horse in Davidson County, Tenn.
Freshwater snails are the source of the bacteria that causes Potomac horse fever. Horses may be exposed when drinking from creeks or rivers, and can then suffer from colic, fever, and diarrhea. Potomac horse fever has not been found to directly transmit from horse to horse.
Another potentially deadly disease, strangles, was confirmed in four horses at a private facility in Shelby County last month. This disease is a contagious upper respiratory tract infection that causes lymph nodes to swell around the head and neck, possibly leading to coughing, difficulty swallowing, airway obstruction, or death. Other symptoms can include nasal discharge, fever, and depression. According to the veterinarian treating the Shelby County horses, all are improving and are under voluntary quarantine until they fully recover.
Neither strangles nor Potomac horse fever are a threat to human health.
"Potomac horse fever and strangles are serious infections, and if you notice any signs of illness in your horses, you should contact your veterinarian immediately," State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. "With these confirmed cases in Tennessee, we urge horse owners to be sure their horses are protected by using best management practices, which includes consulting with your local veterinarian for appropriate vaccination needs and schedules."
Dr. Hatcher also suggests the following recommendations for horse owners to prevent disease:
• Regularly disinfect stalls, water buckets, feed troughs, and other equipment
• Eliminate standing water sources where disease-carrying insects may gather and breed
• Avoid co-mingling your horses with other, unfamiliar horses
The State Veterinarian and the staff at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory are strongly committed to supporting horse health. The laboratory offers veterinarians advanced testing to confirm several equine diseases, including influenza, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, clostridiosis, herpesvirus, West Nile virus, and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. For more information, contact your local veterinarian or the State Veterinarian's office at 615-837-5120.