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How can Horse Disease be Prevented?

Disease prevention relies on a combination of good biosecurity and vaccination. Listed below are some ways you can help to reduce the spread of equine infectious disease.

  1. Ensure effective biosecurity

Good biosecurity is an important aspect of disease prevention, below is a list of actions which can help to improve the biosecurity on your yard.

       A.     Adopting good hygiene procedures:

  • Use dedicated stable equipment for each horse to help avoid the spread of infections, for example individual feed buckets, brushes, tack etc.
  • Try to avoid horse to horse contact and shared water at shows or events and if you handle another horse wash your hands before handling your horse again.
  • Disinfect stables and equipment, between horses, with disinfectants which are effective against viruses and bacteria.

       B.     Quarantine

If a horse on your yard is suspected to have an infectious disease; it must be quarantined immediately to prevent spread.

All new horses on a yard should also be quarantined on arrival for at least three weeks and monitored for signs of disease. Isolation areas can be as simple as an isolated paddock or stable and should be at least 10m (ideally 25m) away from any other horses.

If a horse is suspected to have an infectious disease it must be isolated immediately.
If a horse is suspected to have an infectious disease it must be isolated immediately.

 

       C.     Establish a yard protocol

Ideally your yard should have a protocol providing clear rules as to what should be done in the event of a potential infectious disease case.

This protocol should apply to all horses on the yard and is much easier to establish prior to any outbreak.

The yard protocol should state what vaccinations horses should have prior to entering the yard as this will help to reduce the likelihood of the infectious disease spreading.

       D.     Limit the number of horses on a yard

Overcrowding increases the likelihood of infection spreading and should be avoided.

       E.     Be vigilant for signs

  • Monitoring your horse's health on a daily basis will allow any disease to be identified earlier. The earlier an infectious disease is diagnosed, the sooner the horse can be isolated, thus reducing the opportunity of the disease to spread to other horses.
  • Monitoring for a rise in rectal temperature is a good way of picking up early cases of disease.

       F.     Be aware of horses at risk

Infectious diseases can affect all ages and types of horses but those most at risk are young horses kept in large groups and those which travel a lot, for example to competitions.

       G.     Segregate youngsters

Diseases such as ’flu’ are most common in youngsters under three years of age.

       H.     Ventilate your stables

Ensuring stables are well ventilated will improve respiratory health and help reduce the spread of disease.

2.Vaccinate your horse

Vaccination is the best way to prevent your horse from contracting certain infectious diseases.

Allowing your horse’s booster vaccinations to lapse may increase the risk of disease. For more information visit: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Disease-prevention or speak to your vet.