Last Updated on July 20, 2022
If you’re concerned about your horse being infected with Potomac horse fever, then utilizing a Potomac horse fever map can help you to identify areas that are at a high risk of this serious health condition. Let’s find out everything you need to know about the Potomac horse fever map!
What Is Potomac Horse Fever?
Potomac horse fever (PHF) is a severe infectious disease of horses, caused when horses consume infected parasites and aquatic insects. Cases occur most commonly in horses that graze near to or alongside rivers, lakes, and other water sources, although they can occur anywhere. Horses of any age, breed, or type can be infected by PHF.
PHF is most common in late summer and through the fall when insect populations are at their highest. The initial clinical signs of PHF in horses are quite mild, with the horse just seeming to be lethargic with a reduced appetite. However, other clinical signs quickly develop, including an elevated respiratory rate, elevated heart rate, and fever.
If left untreated, horses with PHF can develop some serious and debilitating secondary conditions. Many horses with PHF develop laminitis, thought to be due to the high levels of circulating toxins in the bloodstream. Pregnant mares that contract PHF will commonly abort their foal.
Because PHF can quickly develop into serious illness, prompt and aggressive treatment is necessary. Medication will be given to reduce inflammation, as well as antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection.
Horse owners should be aware of the clinical signs of PHF in order to be able to seek veterinary help promptly. If your horse appears dull or lethargic, checking the temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate can help to identify the early stages of this disease.
Horses can be vaccinated against PHF; this vaccine does not stop the horse from contracting the disease, but may reduce its severity and increase the chances of a full recovery. The vaccine should be given prior to the peak infection period to be most effective.
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What Is A Potomac Horse Fever Map?
Potomac horse fever is endemic in specific areas, but is not widespread across the whole country. The potomac horse fever map can be used to identify at risk areas, enabling horse owners to be vigilant for the symptoms of PHF.
Potomac horse fever maps are normally created in response to an outbreak of cases in a particular region or area. Alternatively, country-wide maps can be used to identify regions where this disease is found.
Infection with PHF is confirmed following the submission of two blood samples taken 1-2 weeks apart, with the first being taken as soon as clinical symptoms occur. A positive case of PHF will show a significant increase in the serological response to the causative agent. PCR tests can also be carried out to detect the presence of the causative agent in blood or feces.
Once a positive diagnosis has been confirmed by a laboratory, this data can be entered onto a potomac horse fever map. The map will then show the number of positive cases of PHF within a specific region or zone.
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What States Have Potomac Horse Fever?
Potomac horse fever is now found in over 40 US states, and has spread across the border to Canada. Initially, it was found in areas near the Potomac River, which is how it was named. However, since then PHF has become widespread across the vast majority of the US.
If you live in an area that has high levels of PHF, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of infection in your horse. The vaccine can reduce the severity of the disease, although it is unlikely to prevent it altogether.
Keep water buckets and feed areas clean to reduce insect populations, and turn off barn lights at night to prevent insects from being attracted. If your field contains a water source such as a river, lake, or stream, consider fencing it off so your horse cannot access it. Alternatively, maintain an area of vegetation along the side of the water to discourage insects from straying away from the water.
Summary – Potomac Horse Fever Map
So, as we have learned, a potomac horse fever map can be used to identify at risk areas, enabling horse owners to be vigilant for the symptoms of PHF. Potomac horse fever (PHF) is a severe infectious disease of horses, caused when horses consume infected parasites and aquatic insects. If left untreated, horses with PHF can develop some serious and debilitating secondary conditions, so prompt and aggressive medical therapy is necessary to treat this disease.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the potomac horse fever map! Have you ever come across an outbreak of potomac horse fever in a group of horses? Or maybe you’re worried that you may be keeping your horse in an area that is high risk on the potomac horse fever map? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Is The Agent That Causes Potomac Horse Fever?
Potomac horse fever is caused by infection with a bacteria called Neorickettsia risticii, formerly known as Ehrlichia risticii. This is a complex bacteria that infects a parasite of freshwater snails and other aquatic insects such as caddis flies, damselflies, mayflies, dragonflies, and stoneflies.
How Is Potomac Horse Fever Transmitted?
Horses can contract potomac horse fever by drinking water that contains cercariae, a parasite that infects snails. This parasite is in turn infected by the bacteria that causes potomac horse fever. This disease can also be contracted when horses accidentally consume aquatic insects that are contaminated with infected cercariae.
What Is The Incubation Period For Potomac Horse Fever?
Potomac horse fever has an incubation period of 10-18 days. It is more common in late summer and fall, when numbers of aquatic insects are higher.
How Do You Treat Potomac Horse Fever?
Potomac horse fever is a severe and debilitating illness that requires emergency treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is used to reduce fever and inflammation, and specific antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection. If the horse becomes dehydrated then intravenous fluid therapy may be required.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE