Moffat County horses catch rare disease |

Moffat County horses catch rare disease

Scott Schlaufman

A Craig man has been issued court summonses after allegedly bringing seven horses into the state without the proper health certificates.

Victor Tarango was issued summonses for seven counts of importing livestock without obtaining health certificates and two counts of failure to obtain brand inspection, Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Gary Nichols said.

Nichols said the importing livestock charges carry a $500 to $2000 fine per animal and has a maximum sentence of 90 days in county jail. The brand inspection charges have a $200 to $1000 fine per animal.

Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado State Veterinarian's office are leading the investigation.

Five of the seven horses involved are allegedly infected with equine piroplasmosis, a blood-borne disease.

"It's either spread through ticks or can be spread through needles," said Dr. Keith Roehr, the Colorado State Veterinarian.

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Nichols said the issue was brought to the sheriff's department when a horse at a racetrack in New Mexico was found with the disease. The horse was traced to Colorado and further investigation traced it to Moffat County, he said.

Nichols said that Tarango is boarding about 20 horses in the 200 block of Lincoln St. The horses have been put into quarantine, he said.

Nichols said seven of those horses were brought into the state from Los Alamitos, Calif., five of which were diagnosed with the disease.

Roehr said equine piroplasmosis is a disease that can be fatal, but recent outbreaks have been relatively mild.

"I think, because it's a disease that doesn't typically exist in the United States, we use the utmost caution because we don't want it to be endemic," Roehr said. "We don't want to give the protozoa an opportunity to adopt a new tick sector that doesn't exist today."

Roehr said the disease cannot be passed on to other livestock and horses cannot contract it simply being in contact with each other.

"The host range is equines and that means donkeys, horses, mules and zebras," Roehr said. "It's a blood-borne disease, so if they don't share red blood cells then the risk is nil. It takes more than intimate contact and we don't have a confident tick factor in Colorado.

Nichols encourages anyone purchasing livestock to make sure they go through the proper procedures.

Residents bringing animals into the state need to obtain the proper health certificates. Horses also require a Coggins test, which is used to diagnose equine infectious anemia, a virus, he said.

Additionally, horses require a brand inspection at any change of ownership, when an animal is moved over 75 miles within the state, or when the animal is moved out of state, regardless of distance to the state line, Nichols said.

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