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VA 'swamp cancer' prompts concern for NC wild horses

FILE - In this July 25, 2011, file photo, a group of wild horses cools off in the ocean breeze on the beach in Corolla, N.C. As North Carolina braces for Hurricane Florence, some tourists and residents are worried about the famous wild horses that roam the Outer Banks. But Sue Stuska, a wildlife biologist based at Cape Lookout National Seashore, said the horses instinctively know what to do in a storm. (AP Photo/Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley, File)

COROLLA, N.C. (AP) — After a fungus-like disease known as “swamp cancer” claimed the lives of seven wild ponies on a Virginia island, wild horses in North Carolina’s Outer Banks are being monitored for signs of a similar outbreak.

The News & Observer reports the Corolla Wild Horse Fund warns that warmer winters and increased precipitation have increased the risk of a local pythiosis outbreak.

The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company in Virginia euthanized seven ponies with the disease between October and December.

Horses are infected when the organism enters the bloodstream through open wounds. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is asking people to clean up debris and trash that could cut or scrape the horses, as well as report any horses with suspicious wounds. Horses won’t be left in pastures with standing water.

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