Swamp Cancer: A Threat to Horses

Newsdate: Thu, 10 Mar 2011 - 08:15 am
Location: TAMPA, Florida

Veterinarians who work in areas of the Gulf Coast of the United States and in other hot, wet, and humid areas in states such as Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama are warning horse owners to be on the look-out for a fungal disease, pythiosis, also known as swamp cancer.


Pythiosis is caused by an aquatic fungus found primarily in the Gulf Coast of the United States, South America and Australia. This aquatic fungas can cause ulcerative masses to develop, usually on the horse's legs. This fungus can be very difficult to treat.

It is thought that climatic changes may have something to do with the increase in cases being seen by veterinarians, with most cases being seen in Florida and Texas.

Pythiosis usually requires sophisticated treatments by a knowledgeable veterinarian. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment is the best way to maintain the horse's health.

The fungal organisms that cause pythiosis produce spores that move through water. Horses and other animals such as dogs or plants that happen to be in the wet environment are at risk of becoming infected.

Once infected, rapid tissue destruction takes place as the result of an allergic reaction to the fungal elements.  If not properly treated, massive, discharging sores can develop leading to a break down in the health of the horse, and in death.

Horse owners living in fungal-prone areas should be aware of the threat of swamp cancer and should examine their horses on a regular basis for any signs of the fungal invasion to prevent its often fatal consequences.

About the author

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..

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