Four Tips To Prevent Spread of Contagious Equine Diseases

Newsdate: Mon 11 May 2015 - 06:40 am
Location: SAN DIEGO, California

With show and racing season well underway plus exposure to contagious diseases via mossquito and tick bites, and other situations leading to diseases in horses, both horse owners and veterinarians need to take responsibility for preventing equine diseases.

Preventing spread of contagious horse diseases

Preventing spread of contagious horse diseases

Each equine infectious disease outbreak is unique, and an existing plan may require modification for specific situations depending on the disease and the number of horses involved.

According to AAEP Guidelines: In the event of an infectious disease outbreak, veterinarians are expected to recommend measures for prompt containment of disease that involve isolation and treatment of affected individuals while preventing spread of disease to the unaffected population.

The purpose of these guidelines is to emphasize the importance of an effective first response by providing a clear, concise action plan encompassing the clinical signs exhibited to a specific diagnosis of the disease.

The veterinarian on scene is the most qualified person to guide the outbreak control plan and is critical to effective outbreak control. Each infectious disease outbreak is unique, and an existing plan may require modification for specific situations.

If necessary, clinical observations, laboratory results and epidemiologic data, once properly collected, may be evaluated by infectious disease experts off-site.

In the event of a reportable disease, veterinarians are required to abide by state and federal regulations. These guidelines do not supersede any existing state or federal protocol.

Among the veterinarian’s initial responsibilities to prevent the spread of contagious diseases are Do No Harm—do not rush into a stall/barn until you have a plan on how to leave it and respond to the ‘worst case scenario’ until you have a specific diagnosis.

Getting Started

Tip #1

Veterinarians and horse owners need to have an established response plan for control of contagious disease outbreaks—a planned response is the most effective tool for minimizing outbreak impact.

Tip #2

Maintain a log, recording events as they occur, including:

  • Case identification—which horse(s) got sick, where, and when
  • Control measures implemented
  • Horse movement—within facility, entering and exiting facility
  • Diagnostic testing results
  • Communications with practitioners, horsemen, and regulatory veterinarians

Tip #3

Establish effective communication, including:

  • Regular meetings providing clear information and simple instructions to
  • Facility management
  • Horsemen
  • Veterinarians
  • Media
  • Related industry affiliates

Note: Effective communication minimizes speculation and establishes expectations.

Tip #4

  • Manage time effectively.
  • Delegate tasks that do not require execution by a licensed veterinarian to horse owner or handler
  • Utilize licensed veterinary technicians for sample collection, physical inspections, temperature recording, etc.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..