Authorities in Western Australia are working to identify a mystery ailment reportedly affecting up to 18 horses.
The state’s Department of Agriculture and Food has taken samples to identify the cause of mouth papules – small solid rounded bumps – in horses on a property in the southwest after being contacted by a private veterinarian attending to the horses.
One other property in the South-West has also reported similar mouth papules in their horses to the department.
Testing has already ruled out the main virus of concern, vesicular stomatitis, and further testing is under way to determine the cause.
Preliminary tests suggest the lumps might be a response to a viral infection and testing is continuing. The department is continuing to work with the veterinary clinic involved to assist in finalising a diagnosis.
The horses are reported have mild signs and it is likely people examining normal healthy horses’ mouths may see small lumps that are not necessarily of concern. The department says the black tongue that has been reported by some horse owners on Facebook may be due to staining from treatment or feed and is not related to the condition.
The department urged horse owners to contact their local veterinarian if they notice unusual signs in their horses.
There are no restrictions on horse movement in West Australia or on events.
The department’s standard horse biosecurity recommendations are that only healthy horses should attend events and they should not share feed, water, or tack and equipment with other horses.