NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The state lab has found evidence of a nasty bacteria strain in the water supply that can kill horses. The state veterinarian issued a warning about the threat of Potomac Fever.
"We've come across our first case of Potomac Fever," said state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher.
He says the first case this year is a red flag for the many equine owners in Tennessee.
"The horse industry is huge. We are probably top five states in the country," said Hatcher.
Now, the twelve Metro mounted patrol horses are all healthy, but the state lab did recently test blood from a sick horse in Davidson County that came back positive for Potomac Fever.
"They can get very sick and need to be treated by a veterinarian," said Hatcher.
Potomac Fever is a bacterial disease from fresh water snails in rivers and creek beds. It's not contagious, but Dr. Hatcher says horse owners need to monitor the water source for their animals to make sure it safe, meaning stay away from rivers and creeks.
"We want to keep horse owners on alert."
The discovery of Potomac Fever comes just weeks after the state lab also found four horses out of west Tennessee sick with something called strangles.
"Strangles is also a bacteria and highly contagious from nasal secretions from horse to horse." said Dr. Hatcher.
He added that in most cases horses can be helped with antibiotics, but left untreated bacterial infections can be fatal.
These illnesses are threats to horses, but they do not pose a threat to humans. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarians to ask about potential vaccines.