Influenza Cases Emerge in Paso Fino Show Horses

At least 15 cases of equine influenza were detected in the wake of the Paso Fino Horse Association's 34th Annual Grand National Championship Show, which was held Sept. 17-23 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and AgriCenter in Perry, Ga.

C.J. Marcello, executive director of the Paso Fino Horse Association, confirmed last week that horses at the show contracted equine influenza. He said the on-call veterinarian treated three sick horses and another veterinarian, Hiram M. Pomales, DVM, who has many Paso Fino owners as clients, treated 15 cases of flu in the outbreak.

It is unclear whether any of Pomales' patients were the same as those treated by the on-call veterinarian. Pomales was unavailable for comment as he is currently out of the country.

At least one influenza case--a horse that had been at the show--has been confirmed at the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, according to Jeremiah T. Saliki, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor and head of the Virology/Serology Sector.

According to Bradford G. Bentz, VMD, in his book, Understanding Equine Preventive Medicine, "Equine influenza is one of the most frequently encountered infectious diseases of horses. It affects the upper respiratory tract, producing illness associated with fever and coughing." Horses in high-density or high-stress situations are more likely to become infected, and the disease is typically introduced into a group of horses by a symptomatic or asymptomatic horse that is shedding the virus. Common sources of infection are a coughing horse or through contaminated feed buckets, grooming implements, or tack.

Several equine vaccines are available for the disease's prevention.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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