Five Tips for Avoiding Infection while Traveling with Horses

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Five Tips for Avoiding Infection while Traveling with Horses

Summer is peak season for horse shows and events, so CSU veterinarians are reminding riders to take steps to prevent the spread of equine infectious disease if traveling with horses.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Summer is peak season for horse shows and events, and Colorado State University (CSU) veterinarians remind riders that it’s important if traveling to take steps to help prevent the spread of equine infectious disease.

Recent cases and outbreaks of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), which can cause potentially fatal neurologic disease, have drawn attention to the need for prevention. Influenza, salmonellosis, and strangles are some other infectious diseases of concern, said Paul Morley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, director of infection control at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

“Some advance planning and a few low-cost, common-sense preventive measures will help keep horses healthy while traveling,” Morley said. “Protecting the health of your horse makes these steps well worth the time and thought.”

Preventing Infectious Disease in Horses When Traveling

Veterinarians from CSU advise horse owners to thwart infection by understanding and watching for symptoms of illness. They also recommend precautions including disinfecting trailers and equipment, and preventing horse-to-horse contact that could spread pathogens.

Morley recommends that riders traveling with horses take the following steps:

  • Prepare for a trip by properly cleaning the horse trailer and consulting with your veterinarian about your horse’s present health, vaccinations, diseases of concern, and any other relevant issues. Pack all cleaning equipment and health supplies you might need on the road.
  • Avoid strangers, and don’t borrow or share. Contagious diseases are transmitted through contact, including direct nose-to-nose contact among horses, as well as your horse’s contact with surfaces that an infected animal might have contaminated with saliva, respiratory secretions, or manure. Bottom line: Separate your horse from other horses, and use only your own tack, grooming supplies, and feeding and watering equipment.
  • Create a clean environment for your horse during a show or event. Fully clean and disinfect on-site stalls before housing your horse at an event.
  • Monitor your horse for signs of illness. During an event, keep tabs on your horse’s temperature, monitor feed and water intake to ensure it is normal, and watch for other signs of illness. Ask your veterinarian for health information and how-to demonstrations, if needed.
  • Segregate the traveling horse upon return home. A horse that has been at a show or event could be incubating illness, so isolated the horse from others for five to seven days and monitor for any signs of illness that might arise before returning the horse to the home group.

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Colorado State University

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