Controlling Contagious Equine Diseases

Controlling Contagious Equine Diseases

A holistic approach to the treatment of your pet’s skin conditions is the best way to ensure a successful outcome. The new requirement consists of a?permit?to enter the state.?Horse owners who wish to bring their horse into?Colorado must first call their veterinarian. The first case of EHV-1 was reported to Oregon state animal health officials the week of April 27. More serious is the risk to this industry, which has grown significantly in recent years, and is now a $900 million annual business in the United States. March 10, 2014… The outbreak in the western states surpassed one of the previous worst outbreaks among show horses, in South Florida in December, 2006, resulting in six deaths and threatening Florida’s winter circuit, the world’s largest horse show. One particular strain of EHV-1 is more likely to cause neurological disease.

No BLM-managed wild horses or burros on the range or at BLM facilities are known to have been exposed or affected by the neurologic EHV-1 outbreak at this time. The number of confirmed cases of EHV-1 or EHM in the current outbreak, as compiled by from official state reports, Thursday night were: California (18), Colorado (9); Idaho (5), Montana (1), Nevada (3), New Mexico (2), Oregon (4), Texas (1), Utah (7) and Washington (3). If EHV or another contagious equine disease broke out near your property, would you know what to do? The virus can also spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, and hands. A good biosecurity program need not be difficult or complex. In fact, your normal management practices are probably already covering most of the bases. Twenty Oregon horses attended, and five from Umatilla, Clackamas and Deschutes counties later tested positive for the virus.

Your veterinarian will help you tailor a program to your individual needs. Here’s where you can start. Keep vaccinations up to date Vaccination is an inexpensive but effective way to prevent your horse from contracting several serious diseases. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends that all horses receive vaccines against a “core” group of diseases: tetanus, eastern/western equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile virus and rabies. An additional eight vaccines are available for horses at risk of encountering diseases such as Potomac horse fever, strangles or EHV. Which of these risk-based vaccinations a horse needs depends on several factors, including his geographic location, age and activities. Those who are frequently transported to horse shows, for example, require more protection than most “homebodies,” and the needs of a pregnant mare are different from those of a retired gelding.

These include long-term intravenous therapy, oxygen support, and mechanical ventilation as some of the advanced therapies available for critically ill patients. Especially if you’ve made any significant management or lifestyle changes in recent years, ask her to review your routine to make sure you’re still providing the appropriate protection for your horse. Practice good daily hygiene A number of diseases—including rhinopneumonitis, strangles and equine influenza—can be passed from horse to horse on human hands and with shared tack and equipment. Here are several tips for reducing the chances that you’ll inadvertently spread an illness around your barn: Wash your hands after handling each horse. Cleansing your hands is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to avoid spreading infections. Develop the habit of washing with soap regularly, and consider installing wall-mounted dispensers of hand sanitizer between stalls or in other strategic locations. State veterinarians are now reporting their confirmed and suspected cases to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which has begun to keep a tally of the number of cases nationwide.

Scrub water buckets and automatic waterers regularly. Six additional horses exposed are showing clinical signs of EHV-1. Also, never let the end of the hose touch the surface of the water as you fill the bucket. Keep equipment separate. Ideally, each horse will have his own dedicated grooming brushes, blankets and sheets, bits and other items. Colored duct tape is a good way to mark each item to help avoid mix-ups—assign each horse his own color and use it to “tag” all of his equipment. Also, avoid sharing items with strange horses at shows or other events.

Controlling Contagious Equine Diseases
Control rodents. Rats can carry several diseases that affect both horses and people. Keep grain bins sealed, and promptly clean up any feed spills to deter vermin. Barn owls, cats and other predators will help keep populations down. Manage manure responsibly. Some pathogens may be passed via contact with manure. Pick up wastes daily, and avoid tracking it around with your boots or wheelbarrow wheels.

If you are caring for a sick horse, place a disinfectant footbath at your barn entrance. Pusterla said the blood test is accurate only about 80% of the time. Then, step into it to scrub the organic material off the bottom of your boots as you enter and exit the barn, changing the footbath water as it becomes dirty. Quarantine new or sick horses A number of contagious diseases can be spread directly from horse to horse. “Modes of transmission include direct contact, inhalation, oral [ingestion], via open wounds or bites and venereal contact,” says Roberta M. Dwyer, DVM, professor at Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center.

If you have a stable herd—a group of horses who live together and travel infrequently—chances are you’ll need to implement quarantine measures under only two circumstances: when you actually have a sick horse, and when you introduce a new horse. Horses exposed to a number of common equine diseases may show no signs for a week or more, yet they are capable of passing the pathogens on to others. For example, a horse can easily be exposed to strangles or rhinopneumonitis at an auction, then carry the disease to the herd at his new home. “New horses should be quarantined for at least two weeks prior to joining the herd,” says Dwyer. “Two weeks covers the incubation period for many equine infectious diseases, like influenza.” If the horse has a vague history or you’re unsure about his vaccination status, it’s wise to extend the isolation period to at least 21 days. “New horses should have their temperatures taken twice daily for early detection of disease,” says Dwyer. Call your veterinarian at the first sign of fever.

It’s also a good idea to monitor the temperatures of your resident horses during this time. Another risk occurs when you have some horses who always stay at home but share space with others who do go to shows. The traveler could easily pick up an illness and spread it to the rest of the herd before you know he’s sick. Have an action plan ready To avoid wasting time in the event of a disease outbreak, establish an action plan. Keep on hand equipment and products that are necessary to clean and disinfect stalls, including plastic booties, gloves and protective coveralls. Consider how you would manage the practical aspects of isolating one or more members of your herd, and make sure you have ready access to your horse’s veterinary records, particularly his vaccination history. Once you’ve developed a plan for dealing with sick horses, make sure everyone else who has access to your farm or works in your barn knows the procedures, too.

Either meet with individuals informally or schedule a training session so that everyone knows how to recognize the first signs of illness and what to do if they spot something. If an outbreak occurs in your area, get your information from reliable sources. Be wary of social media: When people panic, rumors run rife. Instead, rely on your veterinarian, your state veterinarian’s office or your state’s department of agriculture for updates. Sources like these will have websites with pages dedicated to news releases and alerts. Find the sites likely to cover your area, and bookmark them in a dedicated folder so you’ll be able to find them quickly in an emergency. Don’t forget to include the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at

Keep in mind that, even if a disease outbreak in your region does not affect your farm directly, equine transport may be restricted. You’ll find updates and bulletins on the state or federal websites. imported horses that arrived into either New York or Los Angeles were febrile on arrival, and 60% of horse flights into Hong Kong had at least one case of shipping fever that was evident on arrival. It was contained in part due to the efforts of the National Cutting Horse Association’s quick response in spreading the word and voluntarily canceling events. But the countless individual owners, who heeded the warnings and kept their horses home, helped prevent a handful of cases from growing into a widespread epidemic. Given the nature of this virus as well as other contagious diseases, similar outbreaks are certain to happen again. While you can’t guarantee your horse will never get sick, you can take steps to minimize his risks and the threat of the illness spreading.

And that will benefit not just the residents of your own barn, but also the welfare of horses all around your state.

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