Experts are cautioning horse owners to be on the lookout for pigeon fever, a bacterial illness that causes abscesses typically in the pectoral region of horses, but in other anatomical sites as well.
Pigeon fever is an infection caused by the bacterial organism Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. It is considered endemic in California and some other western U.S. states.
Dr. Amy Swinford, head of diagnostic bacteriology for the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, said the organism can live for months to years in the soil and it may infect the horse through a wound or broken skin. Flies can serve as mechanical vectors to transmit the organism from the environment to horses.