Can possums give horses diseases?
Answer: The disease is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, and is transmitted from opossums to horses when they eat or drink where infected opossums have defecated. The organism responsible for EPM is a parasite, Sarcocystis neurona, a protozoan or microscopic single-cell organism.
How do you treat protozoal myeloencephalitis in horses?
How is EPM treated? Treatment to control infection should include an FDA-approved anticoccidial drug (Ponazuril, Diclazuril, Sulfadiazine/Pyrimethamine). Additional treatments should be provided as needed based on the severity of the clinical signs and any associated complications.
What disease do opossums carry that kills horses?
Sarcocystis neurona is the causative agent of a neurological disease, known as EPG (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis), in horses, especially in the Americas. The definitive host for this coccidian parasite is the opossum. Horses contract the disease from sporocysts spread by roaming opossums.
What are the first signs of EPM in horses?
Owners frequently notice obscure lameness, stumbling and incoordination. If the brain stem is involved, usually a head tilt is present. Clinical signs may include: Ataxia (incoordination) and weakness: Generally centered in the rear limbs, symptoms worsen when the head is elevated, or the horse moves up or down slopes.
What diseases do opossums carry?
Opossums carry diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, trichomoniasis, and Chagas disease. They may also be infested with fleas, ticks, mites, and lice. Opossums are hosts for cat and dog fleas, especially in urban environments.
Does every opossum carry EPM?
Believe it or not, opossums don’t naturally carry the EPM parasite, but actually ingest it when eating decaying cats, skunks, and raccoons, which are key hosts for one phase of the parasite’s life cycle.
How common is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis?
hughesi have been found in 21 states and, in some locations, up to 20% of horses may be seropositive to this organism. Luckily, only a very small percentage of horses seropositive to either parasite ever develop the disease we call EPM. The actual disease rate or incidence is difficult to estimate.
Do possums cause EPM in horses?
Opossums can transmit Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) to horses. It is caused by a protozoal parasite whose eggs are shed in opossum feces. Infected animals show various signs of illness, including symptoms of central nervous system disease.
Is EPM in horses curable?
The sooner treatment begins, the better the horse’s chances are for recovery. Sixty to 70 percent of EPM cases aggressively treated show significant or complete reversal of symptoms. Many horses are able to return to normal activity.
Is possum poop harmful to horses?
Do all possums carry EPM?
How long should a horse be treated for EPM?
There are two treatment options for EPM. A six-month course of antibiotic (trimethoprim-sulfonamide) and antiprotozoal agent (pyrimethamine). A 28-day course of antiprotozoal (ponazuril).