The fallout from a hot and dry and Kansas summer includes a spike in cases of pigeon fever among horses.
Several US states have reported a surge in cases of the bacterial infection, caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, which lives in the soil.
The disease is considered endemic in California and some other western US states. There is no commercial vaccine.
The disease is so named because large abscesses often form in the pectoral muscles of horses, which swell to appear like the breast of a pigeon.
WIBW.com reports that veterinarians at Kansas State University have been dealing with a large number of cases of the disease.
The clinical professor for equine medicine at the university’s Veterinary Health Center, Dr Laurie Beard, said: “We previously will have seen this once or twice a year. We’re seeing it in numbers that we haven’t ever seen it before and so we believe we’re seeing this organism because of the drought. We know this organism actually lives in the soil and grows in the soil for a number of months,” Beard said.
She said the Veterinary Health Center had seen 5-20 cases a week during the outbreak.
Staff hoped the cold weather would reduce case numbers.