On-farm biosecurity a must for all traveling horse owners

by | Mar 1, 2013

Horse shows are fun and rewarding. Use proper biosecurity measures to ensure that ribbons are the only thing you bring back to the farm.

The Florida Department of Agriculture announced this week that a horse participating in the Horse Shows in the Sun in Ocala tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), wild-type strain. There are no additional suspected or confirmed cases of the neurological form of the disease at this time.

The N.C. state veterinarian and his staff have been in touch with their counterparts in Florida and have not put any restrictions on N.C. horses that recently traveled to Florida. However, the issue underscores the importance for horse owners to practice strict biosecurity measures after every show to protect their animals.

Here are some biosecurity measures that should be taken after returning to the farm. Veterinarians suggest keeping biosecurity measures in place for two weeks after returning home, or three weeks if there is a known positive case linked to the show or facility that you visited.

  • Isolate the horse(s) away from any others in the stable; if a separate stable or location is not available, keep at least one empty stall between the potentially exposed horse(s) and stable mates (this would include the stalls behind if the barn has a double row arrangement).
  • Use separate water and food buckets, blankets, rakes, forks, shovels in stalls with potentially exposed horses.
  • All activities with potentially exposed horse(s), including feeding, watering, cleaning stalls, etc., should be performed last, after attending to non-exposed, resident horses.
  • Because clinical signs of EHV-1 are preceded by a spike in temperature, taking and recording temperatures twice a day is an excellent, proactive measure that all owners can practice. (This step is only necessary if there is a known case linked to the show or facility you visited.)
  • If any increase in temperature is noticed, call your veterinarian immediately and provide a thorough history of potential exposure to EHV-1.
  • There are many excellent resources available on the Internet that may provide additional information and measures that can be taken. USDA-APHIS has a good brochure to print and keep handy with more safety recommendations.

Horse shows are fun and rewarding, but they also carry a certain amount of risk. Taking a few simple steps will help minimize the risk when you get home.