Potomac Horse Fever Confirmed in Tennessee

The Tennessee state veterinarian is advising all horse owners to be alert as veterinarians have confirmed Potomac horse fever in a Davidson County horse.
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potomac horse fever tennessee
Horses can be exposed to PHF's causative bacteria by inadvertently ingesting aquatic insects infected with flukes carrying the bacteria or by drinking flukes directly from rivers or streams. | Photo: iStock

The Tennessee state veterinarian is advising all horse owners to be alert as veterinarians have confirmed Potomac horse fever (PHF) in a Davidson County horse.

“Potomac horse fever and strangles are serious infections, and if you notice any signs of illness in your horses, you should contact your veterinarian immediately,” said State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM. “With these confirmed cases in Tennessee, we urge horse owners to be sure their horses are protected by using best management practices, which includes consulting with your veterinarian for appropriate vaccination needs and schedules.”

Potomac horse fever is caused by Neorickettsia risticii, an organism found in some flukes (a wormlike parasite) that infect aquatic snails and insects (such as caddisflies and mayflies). Horses can be exposed by inadvertently ingesting aquatic insects infected with flukes carrying the bacteria or by drinking flukes directly from rivers or streams. However, even horses residing far from water bodies aren’t out of PHF’s reach as vectors can be attracted to barn and stall lights and inadvertently end up in horses’ feed or water sources

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