What Horse Owners Need to Know About EPM

This neurologic condition can prove deadly for some horses, but others recover with treatment. Here’s what to remember.
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Horses with EPM might exhibit ataxia (incoordination), muscle atrophy (wasting), recumbency (the inability to rise), seizures, stumbling, and other neurologic signs. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

For horse owners, optimal equine health is everything. Whether a horse has a rigorous competition schedule, is a working ranch horse, or is used for pleasure, day-to-day well-being is a top priority. One of the best ways to help protect a horse and maintain good overall health is to learn about equine diseases, which can cause both short- and long-term problems for horses and their owners.

Some equine diseases show clear clinical signs and are easy to identify. But others can be subtle and are not immediately recognizable. One such disease is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a neurologic disease that can cause distress for both the horse and the owner.

“EPM can be tough to diagnose and cause real problems for the horses that contract it,” says Megan Green, DVM, manager of Merial’s Large Animal Veterinary Services. “Because EPM is a potentially fatal neurological disease, it’s important that horse owners learn about its causes and clinical signs so they are better prepared to recognize it.”

What is EPM?

A neurologic disease, EPM is caused by Sarcocystis neurona, a parasite that attacks the brain and spinal cord

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