Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of EPM

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a master of disguise. This serious disease, which attacks the horse’s central nervous system, can be difficult to diagnose because its signs often mimic other health problems in the horse and signs can range from mild to severe. More than 50 percent of all U.S. horses have been exposed to the parasite that causes EPM. Horses can come into contact with the parasite while grazing or eating feed or drinking water contaminated by opossum feces. Fortunately, not all horses exposed to the parasite develop the disease.

The clinical signs of EPM can be quite varied. Clinical signs are usually asymmetrical (not the same on both sides of the horse). Actual signs may depend on the severity and location of the lesions that develop in the brain, brain stem or spinal cord.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological damage. Use this checklist of symptoms from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) when assessing your horse’s condition for the possibility of EPM:

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your horse has developed EPM. The sooner treatment begins, the better the horse’s chances for recovery.

For more information on methods of prevention and the treatment options for EPM, ask your equine veterinarian for a copy of the “EPM: Understanding this Debilitating Disease” client education brochure, provided by the AAEP in partnership with Bayer Animal Health, an AAEP Educational Partner.

Re-printed with permission from the AAEP and Bayer Animal Health.


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