Few equine conditions cause as much consternation as equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). First reported in 1968, EPM represents both amazing scientific progress and extraordinary clinical frustration. Its causative agents are widespread in North America, and affected horses display neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination) and asymmetric atrophy (muscle wasting on one side of the body). However, the disease is sporadic and veterinarians cannot diagnose it definitively yet in the live horse.
So why is a disease that is one of the few treatable equine neurologic conditions and for which scientists have identified the causative organisms (now down to the genomic level) so frustrating? To address these questions, let’s first take a look at the disease and these organisms, along with EPM’s mechanisms of action, diagnosis, and treatment.
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