By Krystle Bono — The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company announced Saturday that the final round of swamp cancer vaccines for the north and south herds of the beloved Chincoteague ponies has been administered. The series of three injections began in April as a preventative following the deaths of seven of the island’s resident ponies last year.
Swamp cancer, or Pythiosis, is a rare, fungal disease that’s characterized to bring about painful, draining lesions on the equine’s body, costing thousands of dollars in treatments, with the potential to be fatal. The disease is prevalent in warm, wet areas that contain the infective-stage zoo-spores of P. insidiosum, and infect the animal’s skin through small punctures or abrasions. Once exposed, the area erupts into various forms of growth that can only be treated by surgical removal and antibiotics. If not treated in the early stages, it can be incurable.
The ponies have been monitored throughout the series of vaccines, and have been recorded as not having any adverse effects, according to Denise Bowden, CVFC public relations officer.
Bowden also reported the ponies looked, “pretty darn good” and were a “frisky and healthy bunch.” One mare, Lorna Dune, and her baby were transported to the carnival grounds, as the foal has what seems to be a rash to the fetlocks, and it will be bathed with medicated shampoo as a precaution.
With pony penning around the corner, the CVFC is in full swing with preparations to the annual, history-making event, which will flock thousands of spectators to the island next month from across the country.