Horse "Pigeon Fever" Showing Up in Okaloosa County

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

CRESTVIEW, FL- A horse infection known as 'Pigeon Fever' has recenlty started infecting horses in Okaloosa County. The disease is uncommon in this part of the country, since April over 40 cases have been reported and it has some veterinarians on alert.

'Pigeon Fever' is caused by the transmission of bacteria, usually from flies. The infection causes abbesses on a horses' chest, legs, and stomach. While the infection is not usually deadly it can be painful, and contagious to other horses.

Dr. Reese Williamson said, "One of them is the typical pigeon breast where they get the swelling in the chest. A second type is swelling in the bottom of the horse or in the ventral abdomen. And the third type is ulcers that they get on their legs, and sometimes up on their body parts. Around their head, face. Big ulcers that drain puss and are obviously very painful."

The disease got its name because the abscesses cause swelling and make the horse's chest look like a "Pigeon-Breast." Most cases are reported in the western part of the country because of the dry climate, but this year weather conditions could be the cause for the string of cases here.

"We had a dry spring. The winter we had plenty of moisture but we also didn't have a very severe winter, so the flies have been here," added Williamson.

Dr. Williamson says you should be diligent in checking your horse now that the infection has made it's way to the panhandle. One case has already been reported in neighboring Walton County.

State of Florida Equine program manager, Dr. Michael Short, says the state is monitoring Dr. Williamson's findings, and keeping a close eye on the situation.

The outbreak led organizers to cancel Saturday's Dixie Gulf Arabian Horse Show in Bake


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