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Foreign parasite discovered in Ocala, could harm horse business

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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.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a news editor for WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native but has found a home reporting Florida's stories. You may reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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  • As a past student of Microbiology, the probability of Leishmaniasis is not likely, yes there are sporadic cases with Equine and Bovine species . I would think that the possibility would be like that of Schistsomaisis which is a Water related Disease and this would be unlikely

  • What harm do these parasites cause?