Contagious Disease Prevention in Horses

July 21, 2008 (published) | December 19, 2011 (revised)

Recently the equine industry in the United States has been focused on equine herpes virus and preventing spread of the disease. Today on Texas Vet News I am going to talk about some of the measures you can take to prevent not only herpes but other contagious diseases from infecting your horses both at your stable and when hauling your horse to other facilities. Direct physical contact is required for transmission of many organisms but many organisms can also be transmitted when a person touches multiple horses without washing their hands. Also, tack, buckets, and shoes can act as inanimate carriers and spread infection when used on multiple horses, so these items should be disinfected between horses.

If you travel to an event and discover horses there have been sick, it is a good idea to take your horse's temperature twice a day and anything over 101.5 degrees should be a concern. Use your own trailer when possible and avoid hauling horses from other farms. Also, all trailers should be disinfected between horses if horses are hauled from different farms; this means removing the rubber mats and cleaning thoroughly. When you take your horse to an event, try to park as far as possible from other horses and keep your horses at your trailer except when participating in the event. Riding around on your horse visiting other folks may be fun but increases the chance of your horse getting sick. And if you are at a stable with other horses, hopefully the stable has a biosecurity policy that requires all horses returning from shows be isolated for at least 2 weeks. Although this may seem extreme and may be difficult, it should be required at all stables to prevent contamination of the entire facility.

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