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Tick-Borne Disease Affecting Horses In New Mexico

By ABC-7 Reporter Jill Galus

Sunland Park, New Mexico- A new horse disease is springing up in the Borderland.

It’s not an outbreak, but could be a problem for breeders and racetracks.

“It’s either quarantine for the rest of their lives or euthanasia,” Equine Veterinarian, Christy Pitts, said.

Sounds bad – and Pitts says, it is.

“The horses can develop fever, anemia, weakness, those sorts of things.”

The disease is called Piroplasmosis – a blood parasite transmitted to horses by numerous species of ticks.

“Some cases appeared in Texas, I don’t know how those came up,” Pitts said. “Then they’ve begun to slowly spread throughout Texas into other states.”

Juan Quevedo says, he’s been racing horses at Sunland Park for the past 8 years.

Already, three of his four horses have tested for the disease. The results came back negative.

“It’s a little more expensive,” Quevedo said. “But it’s something we need to do.”

Veterinarians say, this is not a big deal yet. So far 3,000 horses have been tested for this disease and only six have come back positive in the state of New Mexico.

“They need to do it,” Quevedo said. “If they want to race that horse, he needs to have that test.”

When it comes to racing, vets say, mandatory testing before a horse enters onto a track will help control the disease – and prevent it from spreading.

“Get your horses tested, ensure they’re negative, and then keep up with the testing,” Pitts said. “So we don’t unknowingly spread the disease throughout the state.”

A proactive approach to avoid something worse.

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