Researcher Says Swine Flu in Horses 'Unlikely'

Can horses get swine flu?

Probably not, said Tom Chambers, PhD, who heads the OIE Reference Laboratory for Equine Influenza at the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington.

Influenza viruses have an amazing ability to mutate and change their characteristics, so scientists who study them never say "never." But, while it's perhaps not impossible for a horse to get swine influenza, Chambers said he thinks it's unlikely.

"Swine flu in humans is not novel," Chambers said. "Swine flu in horses would definitely be novel."

Horses can and do get equine influenza, which is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory disease in horses. It is highly contagious, and horses can spread flu virus from direct contact or coughing. To learn more, watch the Webinar "Understanding Equine Influenza."  

See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  for more information on swine flu.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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