Islanders and Others Grieve Another Chincoteague Pony Death From ‘Swamp Cancer’

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Photo by Linda Cicoira Dawn and Clara Gillis, of Greenbackville, wait patiently for the Old-Fashioned Chincoteague Christmas Parade to begin.

By Linda Cicoira
Messages of support and grief from across the country were posted on the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Facebook page this week in response to an announcement that another member of the famous herd of wild ponies died Monday from swamp cancer or pythiosis, a fungal infection.
“Last week I told you all that we weren’t out of the woods yet,” a fire company representative wrote. “Well, today, precious little Rain Dancer galloped over the rain-bow bridge. This baby just couldn’t kick it and developed some ligament and tendon issues related to this disease. The buy-back owners have been notified and again, we ask for your patience and support in this matter. Our vet has been up here every other day and of course our great team of cowboys have basically put their lives on hold attending to these ponies.”
The comments noted the firefighters’ relentless commitment to the ponies.
The swamp infection occurs in a wound or cut when the animals stand in water that has pathogens. Areas that don’t have harsh winters are more likely to see problems because the water there doesn’t freeze.
Five other ponies are continuing to re-cover from the infection.