Potomac Horse Fever isn’t usually found until late July and into August – but according to Purdue University’s Janice Kritchevsky, a professor of large animal internal medicine, says Purdue has already seen two cases this year and populations are running about three weeks early.
Kritchevsky offers these tips to help minimize risk:
* Vaccination. This protects against only one strain of the more than 60 identified strains of N. risticii. But a study by Purdue’s Sandra Taylor, a researcher in equine infectious diseases, identified factors that might predict survival. Vaccination did not increase the odds of survival, but it may decrease the severity of the disease.
* Watch for symptoms. Call your veterinarian if a horse is off its feed, has a fever or develops diarrhea. Unless there is another explanation for the sickness, consider Potomac Horse Fever as a potential cause.
* Keep all feedstuffs clean and covered. Many of the insects that carry the bacteria die soon after hatching. Their carcasses can fall into open grain bins and onto hay. Cover stored hay with tarps, and make sure grain bins are secured. Keep water buckets and troughs clean and free of debris and dead insects.
* Do not attract flying insects. Large floodlights can provide security at night, but they also attract many flying insects. Consider turning off outside lights during summer months.
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