CSU vets warn horse owners of pigeon fever
August 18, 2009
FORT COLLINS – Colorado State University veterinarians have issued a warning to horse owners.
Owners need to be on the lookout for signs of pigeon fever in their horses, according to veterinarians at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A spike in reported cases of the infectious disease has been reported in the northern Front Range.
The highly contagious disease is also called pigeon breast, breastbone fever, false strangles, dryland strangles and dryland distemper. Sometimes the only initial signs are lameness and a reluctance to move, but other signs can include fever, lethargy and weight loss, according to a release from CSU. There also could be deep abscesses and sores. Horses can be infected for several weeks before symptoms appear, according to the release.
The disease is fatal and is caused by bacteria. CSU experts say the bacteria live in the soil and can enter the animal’s body through wounds, broken skin or mucous membranes. The disease may be spread through flies, especially cattle horn flies, according to the release. Bacteria in drained puss can survive up to 55 days.
Pigeon fever usually attacks young adult animals. Humans cannot catch pigeon fever, but they can spread it from horse to horse, according to the release.