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Equine protozoal myelocephalitis

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Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis is a common condition throughout the North American continent and in some South American countries. In the US and Canada, it is one of the leading neurological diseases affecting horses. The agents that cause this infection are Sarcocystis neurona and Neospora hughesi. The definitive host of S. neurona is the opossum, a scavenger rodent. The prevalence of S. neurona varies according to geographical zones: from 15-89% in the US (10% for N. hughesi) and around 35% in Brazil and Argentina. 1

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Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis causes a lack of physical coordination or related difficulties, weakness, muscle atrophy and spasticity. These symptoms are common in other infectious diseases and EPM can, therefore, be confused with other neurological equine diseases, such as cervical spondylopathy (a neurological form of the nEHV-1 infection), rabies, infections via the WEST NILE virus and other viral encephalitides. A lack of diagnosis and proper treatment can result in severe and irreversible neurological shortfalls in horses.

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1Reed et al. ACVIM Consensus Statement. J Vet Intern Med 2016

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