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'Swamp cancer' threatens wild ponies at Chincoteague Island

Ponies

In recent months, seven horses have picked up a fungus-like infection in their hoofs and legs at Chincoteague Refuge.

There is a danger lurking, literally, underfoot. In recent months, seven of the horses have picked up a fungus-like infection in their hoofs and legs, probably by stepping in contaminated wetlands. Seven have died, including four that were euthanized Friday at a field hospital set up to treat them on the Chincoteague Fairgrounds.

“Shadow, Lightning, Calceti’n and Elusive Star as well as the others received the very best care money could buy,” Denise Bowden, a spokeswoman for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which manages the herd, announced on Facebook Friday night. “They just couldn’t fight this off.”

Managers of the herd worry that warmer weather will bring yet more infections and, potentially, a serious threat to the beloved ponies, one of the region’s iconic tourist draws and a feature of the Virginia coast for centuries.

“We’re not panicking, but we’ve never faced a situation like this before,” Bowden said as vets were still trying to save the last four ponies the week before Christmas. “It’s been very, very trying.”   MORE

 

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