Case Description—A 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding used for unsanctioned racing was examined because of fever and anorexia.
Clinical Findings—Physical examination revealed fever, tachycardia, and tachypnea. Results of a CBC indicated anemia and mild thrombocytopenia. Results of microscopic examination of a blood smear indicated piroplasms in erythrocytes, consistent with Babesia spp. Regulatory authorities were contacted, and results of serologic testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed acute Babesia equi infection.
Treatment and Outcome—Equids on the home premises of the index horse were placed under quarantine. Those equids were tested for piroplasmosis, and 6 of 63 horses had positive results for B equi. Another horse that had previously been housed on the index premises also had positive results for B equi. Competent tick vectors for piroplasmosis organisms were not identified. All 8 horses with piroplasmosis were Quarter Horses that participated in unsanctioned racing and were trained by the same person. Two of the horses were illegally removed from the index premises; these 2 horses and the other horse with piroplasmosis that was previously housed on the index premises could not be found. The other 5 horses with piroplasmosis were euthanized. Investigators concluded that transmission of B equi among horses was most likely iatrogenic.
Clinical Relevance—The United States has been considered piroplasmosis free. However, veterinarians should consider piroplasmosis in horses with signalments and clinical signs similar to those of the index horse of this report. Regulatory authorities should be contacted regarding horses in which piroplasmosis is suspected.