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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

Biosecurity on the Horse Farm

ANSC 420 – Critical Thinking in Animal Science

March 24, 2010

Erin D. Pittman, MS, PAS

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

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?

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!

Things to consider hygiene and sanitation
Things to Consider – Hygiene and Sanitation

Where would you rather your horse be?

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

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?


  • 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

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

Consider all means of disease transmission

Route of exposure? Can you control it?

Consider all means of disease transmission

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)

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

Coggins test cvi
Coggins Test & CVI