NEW ORLEANS — Agriculture officials in Arkansas and Louisiana are warning veterinarians to watch for signs of a potentially fatal horse disease if there's another drought this year.
The disease is often called pigeon fever because basketball-sized abscesses in the chest and abdomen can give horses a pigeon-breasted look. It's also called dry-land strangles, as cases seem to spike in dry weather.
Louisiana usually has fewer than three cases per year, but the state veterinary lab confirmed 33 during last year's drought. And Louisiana State University veterinarian Rebecca S. McConnico says the number could be as high as 300, based on what veterinarians have told her.
Colorado veterinarian Brian Miller says he believes outbreaks increase when dry weather turns the ground to dust that carries disease-causing bacteria into scratches and other wounds.