Cluster of Potomac Horse Fever Cases Confirmed in Kentucky

Veterinarians have confirmed nearly 30 cases so far this year and expect to see more.

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Veterinarians in Central Kentucky have confirmed nearly 30 cases of Potomac horse fever (PHF) in area horses so far in 2017. At press time, six have been diagnosed since the beginning of August.

The University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory’s (UKVDL) Equine Disease Maps indicate four cases were diagnosed in May, nine in June, and nine more in July, for a total of 28 cases at press time. Most of the affected horses have been from Fayette County, with other cases being confirmed in horses from Woodford, Bourbon, Harrison, Scott, and Taylor counties.

In addition to performing PCR diagnostic testing on samples from live horses, Jacqueline Smith, PhD, MSc, BSc, Dipl. AVES, UKVDL epidemiologist and founder of the UKVDL Disease Mapping Initiative, said the laboratory has conducted two necropsies confirming PHF.

“Typically June, July, and August are the months for the most cases of PHF, yet it can be seen throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” Smith said. “We average seven cases per month during the summer for PCR testing and average one to two per summer month in necropsy

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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