After the recent EHV-1 outbreak, everyone is on edge. Kate Samuels gives us the 411 on how the virus spreads and shares basic tips to help ensure that your horse stays healthy.
Spooked by the EHV-1 outbreak in Florida? You’re not alone. Even if you weren’t planning on traveling to Florida this spring, there is still the possibility of those horses coming up (or sideways) to where you are! When it comes to lying awake at night imagining all of the worst case scenarios possible, I win the gold medal. However, I find that firm knowledge and religious precautions help take the edge off of my worries, and make me feel better about this type of panic-inducing situation.
Here are some basic tips to help you and your horse stay healthy. Some riders have decided to implement their own biosecurity measures, and a lot of them are scratching from otherwise well-attended events just to be on the safe side. That does not, of course, mean that entering the state of Florida will automatically cause your horse to become infected. Here are the facts about EHV-1, and they can only help you on your road to peace of mind and smart decisions.
- EHV-1 is spread by direct horse-to-horse contact, by contaminated hands, equipment and tack, and for a short time, through aerosolization of the virus within the environment of the stall and stable. If you’re in a barn with multiple horses, be smart and don’t share any tack or grooming supplies with your neighbors. If possible, prevent your horse from interacting with others.
- The virus can also be spread by coughing or sneezing over a distance of up to 35 feet. If you see a horse sneezing or coughing, take some precautions and disinfect yourself thoroughly.
- Good news: the virus is easily killed with disinfectant. If you feel the need, wear rubber gloves/booties around the barn and disinfect your stalls and trailers to help insure that the virus is kept at bay. Wash your hands in between handling different horses, and if you have to be in contact with a sick horse, change your clothing.
- If you think your horse is at risk, monitor their temperature, and record it 2x a day. The first sign of the virus is in increased temperature. Anything over 101 degrees, and you should notify your vet.
- If your horse develops fever, respiratory signs (including nasal discharge or cough) and neurological signs (incoordination, weakness, difficulty standing, lethargy, difficulty controlling urination or defecation), immediately notify your veterinarian and do not move other horses in the immediate area. At this point, supportive treatment is the only option and is tailored to the individual patient.Vets will usually use anti-inflammatory drugs, fluids and in extreme cases putting horses in slings to keep them upright. Horses that are able to stay standing have a good prognosis, but once they go down it is not a good sign.
- If you need to implement biosecurity measures at your barn, read this guide from the American Association of Equine Practitioners. This includes guides for your facility, your personal hygiene, how to properly disinfect equipment, and much more. [Biosecurity Measures]
- Keep checking www.freshfromflorida.com for updates from the state. The Division of Animal Industry is continuing their disease investigation and developing protocols for surveillance and quarantine release measures.
Ultimately, the best choice you can make is the safe side of things. When in doubt, call your vet! Also, scroll below to see some more helpful links full of information about the virus itself, and suggested preventative measures you can take. Stay safe, Eventing Nation!