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Biosecurity on the Horse Farm. ANSC 420 – Critical Thinking in Animal Science March 24, 2010 Erin D. Pittman, MS, PAS. Oversight?. Why bother?. How do we control disease?. Vaccinations Farm Management. How it Works. Infection Control Plan Avoid or minimize exposure

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Biosecurity on the Horse Farm

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Biosecurity on the horse farm

Biosecurity on the Horse Farm

ANSC 420 – Critical Thinking in Animal Science

March 24, 2010

Erin D. Pittman, MS, PAS



Why bother

Why bother?

How do we control disease

How do we control disease?

  • Vaccinations

  • Farm Management

How it works

How it Works

  • Infection Control Plan

    • Avoid or minimize exposure

    • Optimize resistance

      • Vaccination

      • Optimize overall health care

      • Areas to consider

        • Nutrition and training/exercise schedule

        • Ventilation and airflow in stabling area

        • Insect control

      • Other

        • Example: “normal” gastrointestinal flora

Horse lifestyles pasture potatoes

Horse Lifestyles – Pasture Potatoes!





Showing trail riding and lessons

Showing, trail-riding and lessons



Risk of disease

Risk of Disease

  • Varies by type of horse population!

  • Some horses predisposed to disease if exposed:

    • Foals, old horses

    • Problems with digestive function

    • Drug treatments

  • Situations can increase risk of exposure

    • Commingling with other horses

    • Exposure to insects

Before we talk control

Before we talk “control…”

  • Do you recognize a sick vs. a healthy horse?

Vital signs adult horses

Vital Signs – Adult Horses

Controlling infectious diseases

Controlling Infectious Diseases

  • Infection Control Plan

  • Avoid or minimize exposure

  • Optimize resistance

    • Vaccination

    • Optimize overall health care

    • Other

Avoiding minimizing exposure

Avoiding/Minimizing Exposure

  • How are diseases transmitted?

    • Aerosol

    • Oral

    • Direct Contact

    • Fomites

    • Vector

    • Zoonotic

  • Limiting exposure must address all methods of diseasetransmission!

Examples and methods of exposure

Examples and Methods of Exposure

Things to consider hygiene and sanitation

Things to Consider – Hygiene and Sanitation

Where would you rather your horse be?

Hygiene and sanitation facilities

Hygiene and Sanitation - Facilities

Hygiene and sanitation personal

Hygiene and Sanitation - Personal

Hygiene and sanitation horse

Hygiene and Sanitation - Horse

Transmission aerosol

Transmission - Aerosol

Transmission oral

Transmission – Oral

Transmission direct contact

Transmission – Direct Contact

Transmission fomites

Transmission - Fomites

Transmission vector

Transmission - Vector

Transmission zoonotic

Transmission - Zoonotic

Equine diseases

Equine Diseases

Equine herpes virus

Equine Herpes Virus

  • “Rhino”

  • 9 documented strains

    • 5 affect domestic horses

    • EHV-1 and EHV-4 are most common and pathogenic

  • Clinical Signs:

    • Fever!

    • Malaise

    • Respiratory

    • Abortion

    • Neurologic

Equine infectious anemia

Equine Infectious Anemia

  • “Swam Fever”

  • Horses = natural host

  • Clinical Signs:

    • Severe depression

    • Weakness

    • Sudden onset of high fever

    • Anemia!

  • No treatment available!

  • Detection = Coggins Test

Coggins test

Coggins Test

Equine viral arteritis

Equine Viral Arteritis

  • EVA

  • Clinical Signs:

    • Respiratory Infection

    • Abortion

    • Subfertility (stallions)

    • Limb and Scrotal Edema

    • Skin reaction



  • Clinical Signs:

    • Harsh, dry cough

    • Loss of appetite

    • Depression

    • Watery nasal discharge

  • Can lead to pneumonia

Eastern western venezuelan equine encephalomyeltis

Eastern, Western, Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyeltis


  • High fatality rates

    • Eastern > Venezuelan > Western

  • Neurological Signs

Vesicular stomatitis

Vesicular Stomatitis

  • Can be transmitted between cattle/pigs and horses

  • Clinical Signs:

    • Ulceration of mucosa and coronary band

    • Crusting lesions of sheath, abdomen

  • Reportable Disease




  • Raccoon strain most common here

  • Neurological symptoms

    • Behavioral changes are most common

    • Time to clinical signs varies

    • No treatment

Streptococcus equi

Streptococcus Equi

  • “Strangles”

  • Clinical Signs:

    • High Fever

    • Nasal Discharge

    • Abscessed Lymph nodes

    • “Silent Carrier” status

  • High morbidity, low mortality




  • Clinical Signs:

    • Colitis

    • Diarrhea

  • Highly contagious bacterial infection

Contagious equine metritis

Contagious Equine Metritis

  • Clinical Signs:

    • Uterine infection

    • Failure to conceive

  • Strict importation controls

Rhodococcus equi


  • Leading cause of foal pneumonia

    • Foals under 6 months of age most susceptible

    • High (28%) mortality rate



  • Purpose  Acquired Immunity to disease

  • Initial vaccination

    • Boosters for unvaccinated animals – 3-6 weeks apart (up to 3, depending on vaccine)

  • Annual or semi-annual boosters

  • Routes of Administration

  • Consult with vet

  • Different vaccines for different “types” of horses!

    • Broodmares vs. performance vs. “home-bound”

Routes of administration

Routes of Administration

Intramuscular (IM)

Intranasal (IN)

What are your options

What are your options?

  • Establish a Biosecurity Plan

    • Not as easy as vaccination

    • Risk aversion of the operation or horse owner?

  • All will come at some cost!

Communication with staff owners and visitors

Communication with staff, owners and visitors!

  • Make sure they know the rules!

  • Language barriers?

  • Signage

Visitors and employees

Visitors and employees?

  • Ask! Especially if there is a current disease outbreak in the area

  • Use good hygiene methods

  • Have a plan in case of outbreak

Separate farm and personal vehicles

Separate Farm and Personal Vehicles

Traffic patterns

Traffic patterns

  • People, animals, vehicles

    • Farm personnel

    • Veterinarians

    • Farriers

    • Visitors

    • Horse owners (boarders)

  • Wheel barrows, trucks, trailers, tractors, 4-wheelers, etc.

Facility design

Facility Design

  • Think about infection control before you build

    • Alleyways

    • High traffic areas

    • Treatment areas (stocks, wash stall, etc.)

  • Ease of cleaning

  • Can it be isolated?

Optimize health plans for all horses transport and housing

Optimize Health Plans for All HorsesTransport and Housing

Post contact information

Post Contact Information

Insect control

Insect Control



  • Separated from other horses for (ideally) a minimum of 3 weeks

  • How far apart?

    • Distances diseases travel not established

    • “35 feet” rule for neurological herpes virus?

  • Management

    • Separate equipment

    • Do new horses last

Where does the drain go

Where does the drain go?

What if facilities or schedules don t allow isolation

What if facilities or schedules don’t allow isolation?

  • Group horses according to use/exposure potential

  • Commingled horses are of equal status – exposure WILL happen between them

Keep number of horses per group as small as possible

Keep number of horses per group as small as possible

Minimize contact between groups

Minimize contact between groups

Spread of disease can happen easily

Spread of disease can happen easily!

Consider all means of disease transmission

Route of exposure? Can you control it?

Consider all means of disease transmission

Insects rodents other animals

Insects, rodents, other animals!

Install wash stations

Install Wash Stations

Clean and disinfect regularly

Clean and Disinfect Regularly

Recommendations for new horses

Recommendations for New Horses

Options for managing risk posed by horse contact

Options for managing risk posed by horse contact

  • Establish health requirements

    • Visiting horses

    • New arrivals

    • Horses returning after an event

  • Segregation by risk level

  • Isolation/monitoring of new arrivals

  • Monitoring for illness + plan of action



Examples of health requirements

Examples of Health Requirements

  • Certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate)

    • Timing of exam vs. arrival of horse?

  • Ask about past medical history

    • Illness in this horse or others it has been around

  • Examine horse when it arrives

  • Test for infection

    • Coggins test

    • Others (i.e., screening for strangles)

Example of testing for infection

Example of Testing for Infection

Endoscopy for strangles

Endoscopy for Strangles

Isolation of new arrivals

Isolation of New Arrivals

  • Adequate facilities?

  • Adequate equipment?

  • Enough personnel?

  • All must be present to ensure good infection control!

Early detection is key

Early detection is key

  • Determine cause of disease

    • Allows you to develop a control plan

  • Isolate ill horse(s) at first sign of disease


    • Until you have determinedthey don’t pose a risk to unexposed horses

    • Monitor exposed horses for illness

Recommendations for show horses

Recommendations for Show Horses

Maintain herd health program

Maintain Herd Health Program

Avoid contact with other horses and equipment

Avoid Contact with Other Horses and Equipment

House traveling horses together

House Traveling Horses Together

Quarantine upon return

Quarantine Upon Return

Discuss sanitation with shipper

Discuss Sanitation with Shipper

Recommendations for racetracks

Recommendations for Racetracks

Coggins test cvi

Coggins Test & CVI

Install wash stations1

Install Wash Stations

Limit barn access to authorized personnel only

Limit Barn Access to Authorized Personnel Only

Recommendations for hired professionals

Recommendations for Hired Professionals

Decontamination procedures

Decontamination Procedures







Dispose of waste

Dispose of Waste

Risk assessment

Risk Assessment

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