KER.Equinews.com - Full Article
By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 10, 2014
Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, might not be in the news as much as it was a few years ago, but it’s still a threat to horses. In fact, EPM is one of the most common neurologic diseases affecting equines in North America. Horses can develop EPM after ingesting hay, grass, or grain that has been contaminated with microscopic protozoa found in opossum waste. The natural range of opossums includes the U.S. and parts of Canada, though the risk equine of exposure is lower in dry, treeless areas that are not favored by these marsupials.
EPM affects the horse’s nervous system. Because nerve signals control muscle function, the muscular system is also affected. Signs may be mild, such as a drooping ear or a slight decrease in performance. Owners might not notice these signs or could attribute them to different conditions. In other horses, EPM can manifest as lameness, poor coordination, difficulty swallowing, or an inability to stand. In general, horses with less severe signs have a better chance of recovery than those that are more seriously affected. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in maximizing the horse’s chances for recovery...