Help For the Chincoteague Ponies

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New Vaccine Offers Hope in Chincoteague Ponies’ Battle Against Swamp Cancer

by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

A herd of shaggy wild ponies has gallivanted around the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island for roughly 400 years. But while the famously hardy ponies have survived centuries of nor’easters and hurricanes, a new threat has the herd’s fans and custodians worried.

A strange, deadly ailment called swamp cancer started ravaging the barrier island’s pony population three years ago, reports Pamela A. D’Angelo for the Washington Post. Swamp cancer tends to infect cuts and abrasions, turning them into open lesions that deepen and spread across the body.

Since 2017, seven ponies have been laid low by the disease, caused by a fungus-like microorganism called Pythium insidiosum. An eighth pony thought to be infected with the disease was euthanized in July 2019, but the diagnosis has yet to be confirmed, according to Julia Rentsch of Delmarva Now.

Last year, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company—the organization that owns and cares for the ponies—started testing a vaccine against swamp cancer in hopes of safeguarding the roughly 160 ponies living at the refuge. The treatment is still in early stages, but it appears to be working, spokeswoman Denise Bowden tells D’Angelo for a separate WVTF radio story.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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