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 A Look at the Effects of EPM On the Horse’s Nervous System

EPM is an equine protozoal disease caused by a one-celled organism which affects the nervous system. Lesions on the spinal cord cause degeneration of nerves resulting in Ataxia (lack of coordination in movement), muscle atrophy and weight loss. The symptom first noticed by most owners is “wobbling” in the hind end. Under saddle, it seems like you are riding two different horses, as the hind end is out of sync with the front.

Opossums, raccoons, armadillos and skunks have been shown to be intermediate hosts of these protozoa. Feces from these animals gets into feed sources (usually forages like hay), and is ingested. A horse cannot contract the disease from another infected horse.

A presumptive diagnosis of EPM can be made by evaluating the horse’s health history combined with a failed neurologic exam performed by a veterinarian. A conclusive diagnosis usually includes blood testing and a spinal tap which are expensive, invasive and often include false positive and false negative results.

Drug therapy usually includes treatment with one of two antiprotozoal drugs, Marquis® or Navigator®. Both are 28 day protocols and only available through veterinary prescription. It is common to see relapses with these drugs, so many veterinarians recommend two consecutive treatments.

Holistic veterinarian Mark DePaolo prefers an alternative approach. Complementary medical options strive to kill the protozoa, boost the immune system, and regenerate the damaged nerve tissue. He recommends a Neurologic Kit containing Colloidal Silver, CHVEL, and EPM Supplement. Additional treatments showing positive results include Liquid Oxygen and intravenous Ozone therapy.

This tip was brought to you by Mark DePaolo, DVM and www.depaoloequineconcepts.com  and KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE webinars, which will take place twice a month. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com  to sign up for the March webinars. These webinars will conclude with a question and answer session, so be ready with your questions!