What disease can a horse get from a possum?

EPM is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It’s caused by the microbe, Sarcocystis neurona, commonly found in the opossum. Horses that come in contact with infected opossum feces can develop neurologic disease.

Are possums poisonous to horses?

Opossums can transmit Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) to horses. It is caused by a protozoal parasite whose eggs are shed in opossum feces. Infected animals show various signs of illness, including symptoms of central nervous system disease.

Do opossums carry a disease that kills horses?

Opossums of North and South America carry and shed a parasite called Sarcocystis neurona that is capable of infecting equines and causing a devastating neurological disease named Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, or EPM for short.

Does every opossum carry EPM?

A few types of wild animals and all opossums can be the carrier of the protozoa for EPM. While other animals may carry the protozoa in their body, only opossums can transmit EPM.

Can opossums carry diseases?

Opossums can carry a number of infectious diseases including, leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, and Chagas disease. Two variants of the rabies virus (bat and skunk) are found in California but all mammals are susceptible to rabies infection.

Is EPM curable in horses?

If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological deficits. The success rate for treated horses is high. Many will improve and a smaller percentage will recover completely, but 10-20% of cases may relapse within two years.

What does a horse with EPM look like?

Muscle atrophy, most noticeable along the topline or in the large muscles of the hindquarters, but can sometimes involve the muscles of the face or front limbs. Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears or lips. Difficulty swallowing. Seizures or collapse.

What are the symptoms of EMS in horses?

One of the most common signs of EMS is the development of abnormal fat deposits (pockets/bulges/pads), usually seen around the crest, behind the shoulder, the hind quarters (especially at the tail head) and above the eyes. Difficulty losing weight. Recurring episodes of acute laminitis. Increased drinking and urination.

How do I keep possums away from my horse?

When you are trying to manage a nuisance animal, the first step always is to remove sources of food, water, and shelter. Go through your barn and make sure there’s no way for possums to get into the hay or into the feed storage area. Never leave cat food out. Clean up spilled feed in the stalls.

Can humans get EPM from horses?

Yes. People can get sarcocystosis. They acquire the disease by ingesting (oral) the protozoan, most common- ly through undercooked meat prod- ucts. Disease in humans can involve either intestinal infection or muscular invasion by the parasite.

What benefit are possums?

Opossums, sometimes referred to just as possums, are a benefit to ecosystems and a healthy environment beyond eradicating ticks. They will catch and eat cockroaches, rats and mice – in addition to consuming dead animals of all types (also known as carrion).

Is EPM in horses painful?

Horses that are suffering from EPM will also be painful around the occiput and atlas, due to the inflammation going on in the spinal cord. If you have the horse walk and have someone walk behind them and pull them by the tail off to one side, they will be unable to right themselves.

Do possums carry diseases fatal to dogs?

Dogs can contract bacterial and protozoal diseases from opossums, although they do not typically carry the deadly rabies virus. Your dog can still be infected with diseases transmitted through possum droppings and urine even if it does not directly come into contact with the possum.

What does opossum poop look like?

Most opossum droppings are around 3/4 of an inch in diameter and taper off at the ends. Opossum feces are roughly one to two inches in length, smooth on the sides, and may have white or yellowish mold growing on the outer casings. Otherwise, opossum droppings are brown in color.

Do possums carry TB?

Although on average only about 2% of possums actually have TB, there are pockets where the numbers infected may be up to 40%. Infected possums were present in about 38% of the country (10 million hectares) by 2003. Most die six months after contracting the disease.

Do possums carry leprosy?

The incubation period for the bacteria is at least two years, and possibly five or six, before it is expressed. Being long-lived is a requirement for acquiring leprosy. For example, even if possums were susceptible, their normal life span is only about two years; therefore, they would not have time to get leprosy.

Are opossums dirty?

People tend to think Opossums are unclean and disease ridden but it is actually just the opposite. Opossums are extremely clean. They are opportunistic scavengers who happily clean up after themselves and everyone else.

What are the first signs of EPM in horses?

Owners frequently notice obscure lameness, stumbling and incoordination. If the brain stem is involved, usually a head tilt is present. Clinical signs may include: Ataxia (incoordination) and weakness: Generally centered in the rear limbs, symptoms worsen when the head is elevated, or the horse moves up or down slopes.

How common is EPM in horses?

EPM causes clinical disease in approximately one percent of exposed horses. Almost every part of the country has reported cases of EPM. However, the incidence of disease is much lower in the western United States, especially in regions with small opossum populations.

Why is my horse tripping behind?

Horses can stumble or habitually trip for a number of different reasons. The most common reason is similar to why we take a misstep if the ground is rough, slippery or uneven. Some horses are more ‘trail wise’ then others and know how to keep their balance over rough terrain. Others have to learn this.

What does Cinnamon do to horses?

Antioxidant-rich Cinnamon is a great digestive aid that can help balance blood sugar levels, making it especially useful for equines prone to weight gain. Use to support healthy digestion, particularly in good doers.

What triggers EMS in horses?

EMS is caused when fat cells or adipose tissue produce high levels of adipokines, a protein hormone that leads to an increase in cortisol. As a result of the abnormal hormone production, a horse’s normal response to the hormone insulin is disrupted, resulting in high insulin and glucose blood concentrations.

What is the difference between Cushing’s and EMS in horses?

Cushings (Pars Pituitary Intermedius Disorder ((PPID)) and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) are the two most common metabolic/hormone disorders of the horse and pony. In general, Cushings affects older horses, whereas EMS first develops in young and middle-aged animals.

How do I protect my horse from EPM?

There are currently no vaccines for EPM, so pest and feed management are the best methods for prevention. A horse that contracts EPM cannot spread it to other horses, so there is no need to quarantine an infected horse.

Do opossums carry rabies?

One important fact to note: Opossums do not carry rabies. It is a common myth that they do, but opossums’ body temperature is slightly lower than that of other mammals, and so the rabies virus cannot take hold.