You can count on World Horse Welfare (formerly the International League for the Protection of Horses) to prepare a helpful guide to disease prevention on horse farms. The charity’s experts may have foreign accents, but the ultimate accent is on the well-being of horses and helping horse owners understand some very simple ways to prevent the spread of diseases when new horses come to a farm or stable.
This summer you may be having horses visit your farm or new horses may be coming in as permanent residents, temporary trainees, or for breeding. Be aware that disease prevention is your responsibility and that news you hear on television about disease outbreaks is just the tip of a huge iceberg. Strangles and tetanus are two diseases that don’t make headlines the way that West Nile virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis may, but they can be just as hazardous to your horse. Equally important may be diseases in the state where the horses lived previously, as well as contagious skin diseases like ringworm that horses carry. Pests like lice and parasites (worms) are also a concern when new horses mix with a healthy resident herd.
What can you add to this list? You’ve probably had some experiences in this area already!
A good idea is to find out what networks may exist in your area to find out when diseases are discovered. Some vet clinics now have blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to announce news; some states have active horse councils as well as the offices of state veterinarians and agriculture departments with RSS feeds and web pages with email news signups. If your local area doesn’t have a network, encourage an organization or vet clinic to start one–or do it yourself!
I hope none of us ever needs to really find out how to isolate a sick horse, but knowing how to keep a new horse separate is a good warmup in case you need to take more drastic steps some day.
In the meantime, thanks once again to World Horse Welfare for their excellent education efforts!