Horse owners in Alberta are keeping a close watch on their horses after an outbreak of Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) in the province.

Alberta has seen clusters of cases so far this year, according to Dr. Ashley Whitehead, DVM, BSc, DVSc, Diplomate ACVIM (large animal), University of Calgary.

Caused by the bacterium neorickettsia risticii, symptoms include fever, depression, decreased appetite, mild colic, and diarrhea. More serious symptoms include abortion of fetuses by pregnant mares, laminitis, and death in approximately 30% of infected horses.

Dead insects transmit the virus to horses, who inadvertantly eat them through feed, hay, water, and grass, which is why those areas should be cleaned regularly. Outside stable lights should be switched off, so as not to attract more insects. Bedding should be changed frequently, and garbages within the barn covered and changed regularly. Vaccination protection must be complemented by these preventative measures, as all bacterium strains may not be present vithin the vaccine. Horses cannot directly transmit the virus to one another. 

Antibiotics, as well as intravenous fluids and electrolytes, are treatments for PHR. If you suspect your horse may have PHR, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

With files from,,,

Photo: Shutterstock - Osetrik



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