Spring is a busy time for horse shows and events. Colorado State University veterinarians remind riders that it’s important if traveling to take steps that will help prevent the spread of equine infectious disease.
Recent cases and outbreaks of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), which can cause potentially fatal neurologic disease, have drawn attention to the need for prevention.
Influenza, salmonellosis, and strangles are some other infectious diseases of concern, says Paul Morley, DVM, PhD, director of infection control at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
In a new video, Preventing Infections in Horses Attending Shows and Traveling, CSU equine experts outline specific, low cost precautions for horse owners. (To view the video, go to: http://col.st/1mprawg.)
“Some advance planning and a few low-cost, common-sense preventive measures will help keep horses healthy while traveling,” says Dr. Morley. “Protecting the health of your horse makes these steps well worth the time and thought.”
CSU veterinarians advise horse owners to thwart infection by understanding and watching for symptoms of illness. They also recommend precautions, including disinfecting trailers and equipment, and preventing contact that could spread pathogens.
5 Steps to Health
Dr. Morley recommends that riders traveling with horses take the five steps outlined below.
1. Prepare for a trip. Prepare for a trip by thoroughly cleaning your trailer and consulting with your veterinarian about your horse’s present health, vaccinations, diseases of concern, and any other relevant issues. Pack all cleaning equipment and health supplies you’ll need on the road.
2. Don’t share. On your trip, don’t borrow or share any supplies. Contagious diseases are transmitted through contact — meaning direct nose-to-nose contact among horses, as well as your horse’s contact with surfaces that an infected animal might have contaminated with saliva, respiratory secretions, or manure. Bottom line: Separate your horse from other horses, and use only your own tack, grooming, feeding, and watering equipment.
3. Create a clean environment. During a ride or event, set up portable panels to confine your horse. Or, fully clean and disinfect onsite stalls before housing your horse.
4. Monitor your horse for signs of illness. During a ride or event, keep tabs on your horse’s temperature; monitor feed and water intake to ensure they’re normal; and watch for other signs of illness. (For how to take your horse’s vital signs, go to TrailRiderMag.com.) Ask your veterinarian for health information and how-to demonstrations, if needed.
5. Segregate the traveling horse upon returning home. A horse that’s been on a ride or at an event may be incubating illness, so keep him apart from others for five to seven days. Monitor him for any illness that might arise before returning him to the home herd.