More Tick Trou­ble?

Practical Horseman - - Inside Your Ride -

Lyme disease, anaplas­mo­sis and piro­plas­mo­sis are the only tick-borne dis­eases known to af­fect U.S. horses. But that doesn’t mean no oth­ers ex­ist—only that none have been dis­cov­ered and re­ported.

Black­legged ticks har­bor dif­fer­ent species of Bor­re­lia that may turn out to be as­so­ci­ated with disease in horses, says Linda Mit­tel, DVM, se­nior ex­ten­sion as­so­ciate with Cor­nell Univer­sity’s An­i­mal Health Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­ter. And they’re not the only disease car­ri­ers—dog ticks, lone star ticks and other tick species carry var­i­ous in­fec­tions. In all, ticks are known to trans­mit more than a dozen dis­eases to peo­ple, in­clud­ing tu­laremia and Rocky Moun­tain spot­ted fever. “There have been no re­ports of these dis­eases af­fect­ing horses and horses may not be sus­cep­ti­ble to the or­gan­isms that cause them. But with improved di­ag­nos­tic tests, we may be sur­prised,” Dr. Mit­tel says.

Re­searchers at the AHDC are in the fi­nal stages of a multi-year project aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing other dis­eases that ticks may be spread­ing. Dr. Mit­tel says, “We have found po­ten­tially novel tick-borne in­fec­tions in the horse that may be as­so­ci­ated with fevers of un­known ori­gins,” in­clud­ing var­i­ous species of Anaplasma and Ehrlichia. The group hopes to re­lease more spe­cific find­ings later this spring or sum­mer.

Ticks, such as this en­gorged spec­i­men, can present se­ri­ous health risks to hu­mans as well as horses.

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