Increase Biosecurity Measures to Help Protect Horse Health
Follow these tips to help prevent disease outbreaks at home and on the road.
September 15, 2016
From AQHA Corporate Partner Zoetis
Biosecurity, or reducing the potential for a disease outbreak, is crucial to maintaining your horse’s health. However, total elimination of all disease risks for horses is highly unlikely, as bacteria and viruses can be brought in and spread at an equine facility by horses, people, dogs, cattle, vehicles, equipment, insects, wildlife - and the list goes on.
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“Implementing biosecurity measures where possible is key to help protect the health of your horse and the overall health of the equine industry,” says Dr. Kevin Hankins, senior veterinarian, Zoetis Equine Technical Services. “Vaccination remains the most effective way to help protect horses against disease. In fact, horses vaccinated with WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® have shown to be 30 times less likely to contract West Nile virus.”1
General Biosecurity Tips
- Vaccinate with FLUVAC INNOVATOR® and WEST NILE-INNOVATOR, the most trusted equine vaccines, to help protect your horse from core and risk-based diseases.2
- Use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water after handling each horse.
- When filling buckets, keep the hose nozzle above the water level. Do not allow the nozzle to touch the bucket.
- Designate your wheelbarrows for use with feed or waste. Do not use the same wheelbarrow for both.
- Clean and disinfect equipment before using with different horses. This includes bits, bridles, lead shanks, twitches and clipper blades.
- Bandages and rags should be washed with detergent and soaked in disinfectant prior to reuse.
- Assign grooming tools, halters, feed tubs, water buckets, girths/cinches and saddle pads to an individual horse and clearly label.
- Do not share multidose medications between horses.
- Limit your horse’s exposure to pest disease vectors, including mosquitos, flies and wildlife. Keep feed secure and eliminate standing water.
- Isolate any animals showing signs of illness immediately.
Biosecurity While Traveling
Traveling with your horse substantially increases his risk of disease infection. When horses travel, they are exposed to a large number of horses from different areas and conditions outside the normal fluctuations in temperature. In addition to abnormal conditions, travel can cause horses to be stressed, resulting in a decreased immunity. Be sure to use these biosecurity measures to help ensure you return home with the real grand prize, a healthy horse:
Before Leaving Home
- Work with your veterinarian to design a vaccination program based on your horse’s risk levels and the event’s health requirements.
- Contact your veterinarian to obtain certified veterinary inspection health papers and a Coggins test. Be sure to travel with both of these documents.
- Update your horse’s health records. Access them from anywhere 24/7 within the EQStable™ app from Zoetis.
At the Show
- Prior to unloading, ensure that your horse’s stall is clear of prior bedding, organic matter and other residual materials. Scrub stall walls with a detergent solution and spray all surfaces with a disinfectant, such as NOLVASAN® Solution.
- Do not use communal water buckets or feed tubs.
- Limit your horse’s interaction with other horses, including sniffing noses.
- Keep a daily log of your horse’s temperature to quickly identify illness.
- Before leaving the show grounds, clean and disinfect tack, boots, equipment and grooming supplies.
- Isolate returning horses for two to three weeks before allowing them to commingle with horses who remained home. Monitor them daily for signs of disease.
- Clean and disinfect your horse trailer between each use. If possible, store your trailer away from horse housing.
- Change your clothes and boots prior to handling horses who remained at home.
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“As a reminder, anything that touches a horse may carry the potential to transfer disease pathogens to another horse,” Dr. Hankins says. “However, helping protect your horse from disease doesn’t require keeping him in a protective bubble. Use common sense. If you suspect a horse is sick, immediately isolate him and contact your veterinarian.”
1Epp T, Waldner C, West K. Efficacy of vaccination for West Nile virus in Saskatchewan horses, in Proceedings. 51st Annual Convention of the AAEP 2005;180-182.
2 Data on file, MDI sales data for WEST NILE-INNOVATOR and FLUVAC INNOVATOR as of 12/31/15, Zoetis Services LLC.
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