Serenity Farm

Serenity Farm on Old Barnstable Road

Serenity Farm, a farm animal rescue, adoption and education center on Old Barnstable Road in East Falmouth, is open again after closing for nearly a week earlier this month.

Owner Anne Jennings closed the farm as a precaution after a horse had to be euthanized for what was initially an unidentified illness.

The farm had been closed from January 6 to January 11.

Health officials determined that the horse, a 12-year-old Tennessee walking horse named Johnny who was owned by a longtime volunteer at the farm, died from equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, a noncontagious disease of horses that affects the central nervous system, Ms. Jennings said.

EPM is a disease of the brain and/or spinal cord of the horse, which is caused by a protozoan organism.

“This is not Eastern equine encephalitis, and it cannot be passed to humans or other horses. It is actually carried by possums,” Ms. Jennings said. “EPM is not very common, and the horse probably had it for a number of years. He was under a vet’s care and being treated for symptoms. He had been doing very well.”

The horses’s symptoms were similar to those related to the neurological herpes virus, Ms. Jennings said.

“It was one of those horrible things. The horse couldn’t stand up. He was staggering, and his hind end was really weak, but his front end was fine. He had had a fever a few days before, and just the small stress of the fever pushed him over the edge, as it were,” she said.

Veterinarians tested the horse for rabies and other illnesses, all of which turned out to be negative.

“We had two other horses with a fever for three days. This is not uncommon, especially with the crazy weather we’ve been having. Others told me they had horses that also had fever. It wasn’t related at all [to the horse with EPM],” Ms. Jennings said. “I closed the farm as a precaution, and the other horses are all fine. We’re happy to be open.”

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