Potomac Horse Fever (also known as, Equine monocytic ehrlichiosis) is a bacteria typically found in rivers, creeks, and streams in the eastern part of the United States. It was first detected coming from the Potomac River, thus the name. However, horses in other parts of the United States and Canada have been known to contract PHF.
What are symptoms of PHF?
A horse with Potomac Horse Fever will exhibit the following symptoms: fever, colic, and diarrhea. A horse with PHF can also develop Laminitis which is an inflammation of the laminae in the hoof. Laminitis can lead to death if left untreated. In addition, Potomac Horse Fever may cause a pregnant mare to abort its fetus. If your horse is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Is Potomac Horse Fever Seasonal?
Yes. Potomac Horse Fever starts during the spring and runs through summer and into the fall.
How does a horse get infected with PHF?
Horses can get infected if they ingest mayflies that carry the bacteria.
How is Potomac Horse Fever Treated?
A veterinarian will most likely treat PHF with oxytetracycline IVs in the early stages. If enterocolitis is detected a veterinarian will prescribe fluids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Is there a way to prevent Potomac Horse Fever?
Steer your horse away from rivers, creeks, and streams since this is where the disease carrying insects breed. In addition, keep the stable clean, and supply your horse with fresh food and water. Use approved insecticides to keep the insect population down. Also, turn off the barn lights at night so as not to attract insects. Vaccines can help reduce the chance of infections. The vaccine can be administered just prior to the start of the season.
Equine Potomavac is a liquid suspension of inactivated Ehrlichia risticii for the prevention of Potomac Horse Fever (equine monocytic ehrlichiosis). Safety and efficacy of this product have been demonstrated in controlled vaccination challenge tests and in thorough field evaluations.
In conclusion, Potomac Horse Fever is a seasonal disease caused by a bacteria that is carried by insects such as mayflies. A horse contracts PHF by ingesting the infected insects. Symptoms of Potomac Horse Fever include: colic, diarrhea, fever, and laminitis. PHF can result in an aborted fetus in pregnant mares. If left untreated a horse can die from Potomac Horse Fever especially if it develops laminitis. Treatment includes the administration of IVs, fluids and NSAIDs. A clean stable, proper fumigation, a fresh supply of food and water can help in preventing PHF as well as turning off barn lights at night. Annual vaccination against PHF can help reduce the chances of a horse contracting Potomac Horse Fever.