EPM in Horses
By Emily Konkel
Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or more commonly known as EPM, is a neurological disease caused by a parasite called Sarcocystis neurona. This parasite is found in opossums. Horses can contract this disease by eating or drinking the feces of an opossum.
The symptoms of EPM are commonly known as the three A’s: Asymmetrical ataxia (uncoordinated) with or without muscle atrophy (degeneration). Other symptoms include:
- Abnormal sweating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face or front limbs
- Loss of feeling along the face, neck or body
- Stiff muscles
- Abnormal gait or lameness
- Uncoordination and weakness when going up or down slopes or when the head is elevated
- Muscles atrophy along the top line or hindquarters
Treatment and Prevention
EPM is treatable but damage to the nervous system can be irreversible. The best thing you can do for your horse is to identify the disease early with antiprotozoal drugs. These drugs do not kill the parasite but they do minimize the infection. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Banamine or Bute can help to reduce inflammation and limit damage to the central nervous system.
Unfortunately no vaccine is available for this disease. The best way to prevent this disease is to properly store your hay and feed. Keep them clean and make sure unwanted animals do not have access to it. Also, control the opossums on your property and promptly discard of any carcasses.
For more information on EPM visit: http://americashorsedaily.com/epm-symptoms-in-horses/#.U3v1x2RDtR4