Simple Biosecurity Techniques Help Protect Horses from Disease Threats
RELEASE: February 14, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Teresa Avery
In recent years, the months of the show season have included news of disease outbreaks that can pose a threat to the health of performance horses. More and more, horse owners are searching for simple and effective techniques to help protect their horses from these threats year round.
Knowledge and practice of basic biosecurity has become critical for horse health. Whether traveling, accepting new horses into a facility or performing day-to-day tasks around the farm, an eye to sanitation and disinfection, as well as proper vaccinations and veterinary care, will help assure a healthy environment.
“When traveling, owners should be sure to maintain proof of vaccination for all of their horses, as well as an up-to-date Coggins test,” said Robert Holland, DVM, PhD, Senior Veterinarian at Pfizer Animal Health. “It’s also a good idea to keep daily temperature logs for your horses—particularly if they show signs of upper respiratory infections or other disease markers.”
When at show grounds or events, attendees should avoid taking their horses to common water or feed areas and sharing water buckets, feed tubs, halters or other items that might touch a horse’s mouth, nose or eyes. If you have to share items, be sure to follow proper sanitation and disinfection techniques first. In addition, any horse that shows signs of being unwell should be isolated as quickly as possible.
In order to properly disinfect equipment and tack, it’s important to first remove all excess debris or dirt from them. Then, wash the equipment in a detergent, such as laundry or dish soap and rinse with clean water. Follow this by filling a bucket with properly mixed, commercially available disinfectant—such as Roccal®-D Plus—and dipping the items into the disinfectant solution. Be sure to rinse them with clean water at least twice after disinfection. Keep in mind that disinfection may be needed on items such as halters, grooming equipment, shovels and pitchforks. Stall walls and flooring can be treated in the same manner as needed.
A simple disinfection solution in a shallow basin as a foot bath can also allow staff to clean their shoes when entering or leaving the barn area. Hand sanitizers can help to curb the cross contamination that often occurs between horses as staff move from one horse to another during the day.
Of course, a carefully designed vaccination program, created in cooperation with a veterinarian, is one of the best means of helping horses remain healthy during the show season, and throughout the year.