Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis or EPM

Learn About EPM or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis in Horses

For the horse owner, EPM or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is one of the most frightening diseases. There is no vaccine, and if EPM is not caught in the very early stages, the chances of a full recovery are not good and the disease can be fatal. Diagnoses can be difficult because the symptoms of EPM can look like other neurological diseases, and can start with something as 'insignificant' as stumbling, that could be blamed on other problems that are less innocuous. That's why it is important to learn what the indicators are, so if a horse has any of the symptoms, a diagnoses Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis won't be overlooked.

  • 01 of 07

    A Brief Overview of EPM or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis

    Buckskin horse swishes his tail at flies
    EPM can affect any horse. Suzanne Cummings / Getty Images

    Here is a basic profile of EPM or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. Learn what causes EPM, what the symptoms are and how it is treated.

  • 02 of 07

    Meet the Culprit - Opossums

    opossums.jpg
    Opossums. Image: PHOTO 24/Getty Images

    Opossums may be regarded as cute, spirit guides or pests. For a horse owner opossums can spell bad news. The first time I saw a live opossum, it was a  'what the....' moment. I was driving on a highway at night and a small animal crossed in front of me, back lit by the headlights of an oncoming car. Its silhouette was very different from a raccoon, as was its funny little trot. Not sure what an opossum looks like? Check out this gallery on About.com Exotic Pets of opossums. There are various types of opossums, but only one type lives in North America. Short tailed opossums are from South America. From information online I learned that all can carry the protozoa responsible for EPM.

  • 03 of 07

    EPM Resources and Support

    Shetland pony, chestnut gelding, bitless bridle
    Carina Maiwald / Getty Images

    This page has links to resources like DVDs, books and online information and support to help you learn about EPM. There are lots of online groups and information posted by horse owners. But,  be sure your veterinarian is the first person you consult if you suspect EPM. Don't wait for someone to return an email or respond on a forum. The faster a veterinarian can determine if your horse has EPM and begin treatment, the less lasting damage the protozoa will do. Only a veterinarian can do that. 

  • 04 of 07

    Video of EPM Horses

    Woman rider on horse
    Stephanie Rushton / Getty Images

    When I first began to learn about EPM, I wanted to know what the symptoms looked like. Here are links to videos of horses showing symptoms of EPM.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    EPM Frequently Asked Questions

    Horse standing in pasture wearing dirty turnout rug.
    Image Credit:Dean Kennedy / EyeEm /Getty Images

    Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions. After the initial diagnoses, you'll probably have  a lot of questions about treatment and ongoing care. You'll also be curious about how well horses recover and what the long term prognosis is.

  • 06 of 07

    EPM Terminology

    Close up of horse eye.
    Close up of a horse's eye. Image Credit: Tobias Thomassetti / STOCK4B/Getty Images

    Dealing with EPM means you will be talking with clinicians and veterinarians. Veterinarians sometimes use professional jargon, and this can be confusing to many horse owners. These definitions will help you understand the terminology that these professionals may use when discussing a horse with EPM.

  • 07 of 07

    Take the EPM Quiz

    Image: 2005 K. Blocksdorf

    How much do you know about Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis? Try this quiz and find out.