Potomac Horse Fever: Know the Signs

Learn the clinical signs of Potomac horse fever and how you can protect your horse.
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Potomac Horse Fever: Know the Signs
Horses grazing near freshwater creeks, rivers, or on irrigated pasture can ingest the insects carrying PHF. | Photo: Photos.com
You notice your horse isn’t eating, or maybe he’s running a fever. While these two signs can be indicative of a number of problems, they are also signs of Potomac horse fever (PHF), a potentially deadly disease.

“PHF is a serious disease, especially this time of year, and if you haven’t vaccinated your horse for it, it’s important to understand the causes and signs as well as how to diagnose it,” said Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, an equine specialist with Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services.

He offers the following information to help you protect your horse:

Causes

PHF is a disease caused by the bacteria Neorickettsia risticii. The bacteria exist in flukes (flatworms) that develop in aquatic snails and release into bodies of water. Aquatic insects such as damselflies, caddisflies, and mayflies might pick up infected immature flukes, and horses grazing near freshwater creeks, rivers, or on irrigated pasture can ingest the insects carrying PHF

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