Infectious-Disease Prevention Tips
As a traveling equestrian, you likely trailer your horse frequently in the fall. Year-end shows are held at this time of year, and cooler temperatures mean trail riders can go on long rides. Trailering, too, is easier, as your horse will tend to face fewer heat-related issues.
Unfortunately, frequent travel can lead to a higher risk of infectious disease. Several equine infectious disease outbreaks have occurred in 2016. Quarantine measures and other steps to help prevent the spread of disease associated with these outbreaks have grabbed the headlines for good reason. You might be wondering what role vaccination has or could play in preventing these situations. What went wrong, if anything?
An ongoing equine respiratory disease surveillance program may shed some light on this subject. The surveillance program — being conducted by Merck Animal Health in partnership with the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine — is uncovering sobering information that underscores the importance of basic biosecurity in preventing the spread of infectious disease. Some of these findings were recently presented at the International Equine Infectious Disease Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccines alone may reduce clinical signs of disease and shorten the recovery period, but may not provide complete protection, as hoped or often expected,” says Wendy Vaala, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, Merck Animal Health associate director of life-cycle management, who presented the findings.
For example, since the surveillance program began in 2008, 36 percent of equine influenza virus (EIV) positive cases have been from vaccinated horses.
The study has also debunked the longheld belief that many infectious upper-respiratory diseases, such as influenza, are more common in young horses. Demographic data collected from positive cases associated with recent influenza outbreaks show an age range from 8 months to 22 years, and a diverse horse population representing a variety of disciplines and travel patterns.
“Vaccination is still one of the best means of protection against infectious disease,” says Dr. Vaala. “However, with highly contagious diseases, such as strangles, equine herpesvirus, and influenza, vaccination alone will not prevent disease
A roundup of seasonal tips, checklists, and guides, including fall rides, apparel tips, and expert ways to keep your horse healthy all season long.