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Going viral: be vigilant

- November 8th, 2019 - Ask the Vet

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM

In the United States, we have two viruses that are currently a hot topic for those of us traveling with our horses. The first is Equine Herpes Virus. I have discussed this previously in this forum. It is a group of viruses from the herpes family. There are nine different known varieties, but three of them are the most important, 1, 3, and 4. They can cause respiratory disease, neurological disease, venereal disease and abortion, depending upon which one you are dealing with. There are vaccines available to protect our horses. Vaccination along with bio-security are your best tools to prevent this being an issue for your horse.

The other hot topic virus is Vesicular Stomatitis Virus. It is a little more concerning as it affects many different species including us humans. It tends to cause blister like lesions in the oral cavity, on the nose, on the lips, and sometimes on areas like the coronary bands or genitalia. Unfortunately, there is not a vaccine currently for this disease. Bio-security is going to be your best strategy to reduce your risk of your horse contracting.

Bio-Security is often overlooked when we travel with our horses. Here are some tips to keep fresh in your mind.

1) Disinfect your stalls. If they have not been stripped, first strip them of any manure and old bedding. Then, using a phenol compound, spray down the entire stall. Make sure to clean out the waterer prior to allowing your horse to drink from it.

2) Limit the contact your horse has with other horses. Do not share community watering troughs. Organisms can be left from previous visitors for your animal to ingest and become infected.

3) When booking your stalls, consider booking two extra stalls so there can be a space between your horse and the neighbors

4) Do not allow your horse to have nose to nose contact with others. Nasal secretions are going to harbor many of the respiratory viruses and bacteria that can infect your horse

5) Fly control: battery operated fly sprayers and removal of the manure to minimize flies and other insects will limit their ability to transfer organisms to your animal

6) Do not share bridles, brushes or other equipment with others

7) Limit your exposure to other horses at the events. There are organisms you can transfer from your clothing and skin to your horse if you are around horses that are infected

8) Do not allow people to pet or feed your horses. Chances are they were just touching another horse and could transmit something to yours.

As the show season is drawing down, stay vigilant in keeping your athlete safe. Booster your vaccines and take steps to reduce the risk of infection by putting into place a bio-security plan with your veterinarian

–Dan

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