Pigeon fever cases on rise in Texas – researchers

A horse with Pigeon Fever. © University of Florida

A horse with Pigeon Fever. © University of Florida

A scientific investigation supports anecdotal reports that pigeon fever is re-emerging in the Texas horse population, according to researchers.

Texas researchers, reporting in the latest issue of the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, say the state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of clinical cases of pigeon fever infection in horses.

The disease is caused by the bacterium, Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.

Equine pigeon fever cases at Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratories were analyzed to determine distribution and seasonal and annual trends of pigeon fever infection in horses in Texas between 2005 and 2011. In doing so, the researchers identified high-risk areas.

Cases increased ten-fold between 2005 and 2011, the researchers reported.

The annual cumulative incidence ranged from 9.3 to 99.5 cases per 100,000 horses at risk.

Seasonal peaks were noted in June and in December.

The research identified a high-risk area in central Texas. High-risk areas were also detected in the panhandle and northern Texas.

“The epidemiological investigation supported anecdotal reports that pigeon fever is re-emerging in the Texas horse population,” Barbara Szonyi and her fellow researchers reported.

“This study provides a baseline for future investigations of pigeon fever in the Texas horse population and serves as a reference for the disease distribution for veterinarians and horse owners.”

Re-emergence of Pigeon Fever (Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis) Infection in Texas Horses: Epidemiologic Investigation of Laboratory-Diagnosed Cases
Barbara Szonyi, Amy Swinford, Alfonso Clavijo, Renata Ivanek
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science – 31 July 2013 (10.1016/j.jevs.2013.06.006)

The abstract can be read here.



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