Pigeon Fever Prevalence Evaluated

Researchers have confirmed what many veterinarians have feared in recent years: Pigeon fever in horses is on the rise.
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Researchers have confirmed what many veterinarians have feared in recent years: The number of cases of Cornyebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection—more commonly known as “pigeon fever”—in U.S. horses has risen dramatically over the past 10 years, and the affliction now affects horses in most areas of the country.

Pigeon fever is an equine disease that can cause external or internal abscesses and/or an infection or ulcerative lymphangitis in the limbs. While not often deadly, it can pass from horse to horse and generally requires veterinary treatment.

University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) researchers worked with 15 laboratories across the United States that provided data on 2,237 culture-positive samples from horses in 23 states from 2003 through 2012.

They determined that the number of pigeon fever cases rose dramatically in 2011 and 2012, with cases from those years comprising approximately one half of the total reported. And, although there were no significant associations between the number of occurrences and breed or sex, the clinical signs observed in infected animals differed significantly by both sex and geographic area

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Liz Walsh has covered the equine industry as a freelance writer for the past five years. Walsh graduated from Columbia University in May 2014 with a degree in anthropology. She and her four horses live on a small farm just outside of Manhattan.

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