Equine piroplasmosis: evaluating the threat to the UK and Ireland
Weir and Sutton
Equine piroplasmosis causes haemolytic anaemia in many tropical and temperate countries with fatalities occurring in naive horses. The causative parasites, Theileria equi and Babesia caballi, are transmitted primarily by the feeding activity of infected ticks. Co-existence of an infected horse with suitable tick vectors presents a significant risk for disease perpetuation.
The UK and Eire historically have been free from infection, but unrestricted entry of horses from France may be increasing the risk of introduction. Imported horses will be evaluated for piroplasmosis using different laboratory techniques, and in-contacts of positives traced and assessed for seroconversion.
A similar procedure will be undertaken in pre-selected endemic regions of France. Molecular techniques will be used to demonstrate which tick species collected from endemic areas exhibit equine feeding activity and potentially those responsible for piroplasmosis transmission.
The project will inform improved control measures to minimise the risk to the British/Irish horse population from piroplasmosis.
First published: 15 January 2015