Iceland Horse Respiratory Disease Quarantine Lifted

According to a report filed by the New Zealand-based website Horsetalk, Icelandic authorities will discontinue export quarantine protocol for an outbreak of equine upper respiratory tract infections that affected the island nation's horses earlier in 2010.

According to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), authorities halted the export of horses from Iceland from May 1 to Sept. 14 to prevent the spread of the unknown ailment.

When exportation began again on Sept. 15, MAST issued quarantine protocol stating that "all horses to be exported must be kept in isolated groups on the farms, a kind of home quarantine, for at least 30 days prior to export (60 days when exporting to the USA) ... A declaration by the owner and veterinarian stating that the horses are free of symptoms and that proper quarantine measures were employed must be issued for each horse."

According to Horsetalk, MAST reported that the disease began subsiding in mid-November. The official quarantine protocol will be lifted on Jan. 1, 2011, provided that no more outbreaks of the disease occur between now and then.

The exact disease that plagued the nation remains a mystery. According to MAST, the symptoms included coughing, nasal discharge, laryngitis, and occasionally conjunctivitis. The clinical signs generally remained with the horse for four to six weeks.

Since the onset of the outbreak coincided with the April 14 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, many believed the roots of the disease to be based on the volcanic ash. Researchers, however, eliminated that as a cause and believe the infection to be associated with the bacterium Streptococcus equi Zooepidemicus.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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