Threats the­wa­ter in PO­TOMAC HORSE FEVER

Sum­mer is the peak sea­son for a num­ber of dis­eases caused by or­gan­isms that thrive in ponds, streams and marshes. Here’s how you can pro­tect your horse.

EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear - By Heather Smith Thomas

Horses con­tract Po­tomac horse fever (PHF) by in­gest­ing the bac­terium Ne­orick­ettsia ris­ticii, which may be present in a num­ber of species that in­habit ponds, rivers and other nat­u­ral wa­ter­ways. “We know that a big risk fac­tor is prox­im­ity to a wa­ter source or river---usu­ally within five miles, but that isn’t al­ways the case,” says Michelle Abra­ham Lin­ton, BSc, BVMS, DACVIM (LAIM), of the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia at New Bolton Cen­ter. PHF tends to be sea­sonal, oc­cur­ring mainly in the hot sum­mer months when aquatic species are most ac­tive.

The dis­ease was named af­ter the Po­tomac River Val­ley, where it was first rec­og­nized in 1979, but it can oc­cur prac­ti­cally any­where un­der the right con­di­tions. “If we look at blood tests on horses all across the United States, many of them show ev­i­dence that they’ve been ex­posed,” Lin­ton says. “In­ci­dence and sever­ity varies, pos­si­bly be­cause some horses are more sus­cep­ti­ble, and it may also de­pend on how much they in­gest.”

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