A new parasite has been found in a horse from Ocala, which could mean big trouble for the North Florida horse business. The parasite also poses a potential danger for residents in and around Alachua County.
Known as Leishmaniasis, the parasite is normally found throughout Europe, the Middle East and parts of Thailand.
The parasite is treatable, but people should be concerned about it, said Sarah Reuss, clinical assistant professor of large animal medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.
She said it’s only contractable through sandflies and that there are precautions people can take to avoid getting bit by the flies.
Horses can recover from the parasite without medical attention, she said.
Some horse owners are already worried. Tarynn Adamy, owner of Dreamstone Farm, said she is concerned about how the parasite could affect business.
Adamy gives riding lessons and houses horses on her farm, which has a full stable barn and riding pavilion. She worries the parasite might scare off her customers, and said she’ll take precautions to keep her horses safe.
Katherine Hahn edited this story for online.