A risk assessment of equine piroplasmosis entry, exposure and consequences in the UK

Robert M Coultous, David G M Sutton, Lisa A Boden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Equine piroplasmosis (EP) is currently not endemic in the UK, despite a lack of formal surveillance and the presence of carrier horses in the equine population. Pathogen establishment would have significant welfare and economic impacts on the national equine industry, but the disease is often overlooked by UK practitioners.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the risk of disease entry, exposure and consequences to the UK equine population.

STUDY DESIGN: Qualitative risk assessment.

METHODS: A qualitative risk assessment was constructed utilising the current World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) published framework for importation risk assessment, assessing the key areas of disease entry, exposure and consequences to the UK equine population.

RESULTS: The overall risk of EP entry to the UK via importation of infected equidae with acute disease is very low but considered medium with subclinical carrier animals. Entry via importation of ticks or the importation of blood is considered very low. The risk of EP exposure to susceptible equidae in the UK is considered low by the infection routes of tick-bites, contaminated needles and contaminated blood, but very high via transplacental transfer. However, the consequences of EP endemic establishment are considered of high significance to the UK equine industry.

MAIN LIMITATIONS: A lack of available numerical data for events and variables in disease import risk meant a qualitative assessment was the most practical method for this scenario.

CONCLUSIONS: This risk assessment highlights that EP positive animals are able to enter and are currently present in the UK, and that conditions do exist that could allow forward transmission of the disease. It has highlighted a gap in existing policy where the UK falls behind OIE guidelines and has suggested steps to correct this discrepancy and improve national biosecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-294
Number of pages12
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Volume55
Issue number2
Early online date28 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Babesia caballi
  • Theileria equi
  • UK
  • horse
  • piroplasmosis
  • risk assessment

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