vcsPRAsset_901109_77579_9080935a-bdf3-4cf4-8dd8-d5073a1a979e_0_TSCRASource: Texas Animal Health Commission via the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has designated Brooks County as a high risk county for exposure to equine piroplasmosis, or piro, and will begin testing all equines, including horses, donkeys, mules, ponies and zebras in Brooks County on Nov. 14, 2014.

An informational meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6:00 p.m. at the Brooks County Courthouse Annex, 408 West Travis Street, Falfurrias, Texas 78355. Brooks County equine owners and veterinarians are encouraged to attend the public meeting. TAHC veterinarians will provide key information regarding the disease and testing.

Equine piroplasmosis, also called piro, is a parasitic blood-borne protozoal disease that can affect all equines. Piroplasmosis can be transmitted by blood transfer from infected instruments or insect carriers, such as ticks. Piro is not transmissible to humans.

High risk areas were established for Kleberg and Kenedy counties in 2013, where testing found 28 animals that were diagnosed with piroplasmosis. A number of tick species are capable of transmitting the disease and at least one species, Amblyomma cajennense, is found in Brooks County. Therefore, Brooks County, having the disease vector and being adjacent to Kleberg and Kenedy counties, is considered to be at high risk for piroplasmosis and designated for testing.

“Equine piroplasmosis is considered a foreign animal disease in the U.S., however, new cases continue to be discovered in South Texas,” said Dr. Dee Ellis, state veterinarian. “The TAHC is asking for the support of equine owners and veterinarians to make this testing effort a success and help assure the health of the equine population.”

Brooks County equine owners and veterinary practitioners may contact the TAHC Region 5 office at 1-361-358-3234 with questions or to schedule testing. For more information on piroplasmosis, visit www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/equine/piro.html.