AAEP Task Force Issues Guidelines for Equine Infectious Disease Outbreaks

The Infectious Disease Task Force of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has developed guidelines for the control of contagious infectious disease within the horse population. Recommendations are provided for the control of suspected cases of infectious respiratory, neurologic, diarrheal, and vesicular disease. The symptom-based guidelines provide a detailed action plan for veterinarians as they address a possible infectious disease outbreak. From the point at which a case of infectious disease is suspected, the guidelines offer measures to control the spread of infection, diagnostic testing options and communication considerations.

Highlights of "Equine Infectious Disease Outbreak: AAEP Control Guidelines" include: Biosecurity instructions in English and Spanish for grooms and other horse caretakers; Recommendations for the implementation of a management plan before an outbreak occurs; and Guidelines for specific diseases, such as equine herpesvirus and Strep. equi infection, which can be employed after a diagnosis has been made.

The task force stresses that the veterinarian on scene is the most qualified person to initiate the outbreak control plan, and is critical to effective outbreak management. Each infectious disease outbreak is unique and an existing plan may require modification for specific situations.

"When a large group of horses gathers, be it at a racetrack or a horse show, all those involved in the horses' care should be vigilant about monitoring the health of the animals. It is key that the presence of contagious disease be quickly identified and responsibly addressed," said Mary C. Scollay, DVM, chair of the AAEP Infectious Disease Task Force. "Our expectation is that the AAEP guidelines will assist veterinarians and equine caretakers in minimizing the impact of infectious disease in a given horse population."

The Task Force, chaired by Scollay, was comprised of leading researchers, internal medicine specialists and private practitioners: William Bernard, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; Brian S. Carroll, DVM; Roberta M. Dwyer, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVPM; Robert E. Holland Jr., DVM, PhD.; Daniel G. Kenney, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM; Maureen T. Long, DVM, PhD.; Paul Lunn, BVSc, MS, PhD., MRCVS; and Josie L. Traub-Dargatz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM.

The guidelines are available to veterinarians and can be accessed only through the members-only area of the AAEP Web site, www.aaep.org. For questions about the guidelines or how to gain access, contact Sally J. Baker, AAEP director of marketing and public relations, at sbaker@aaep.org or 859/233-0147.

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