Trade Zone: Disease Control Yearly Planner - Click Here to Download PDF
By Dr. Nancy Loving
To perform to the utmost capacity, a horse must be healthy and sound throughout the year. The smallest details of farm management often have the greatest impact on a horse’s general wellness, and such strategies provide a critical template for minimizing the risk for contracting disease. By being proactive and implementing disease-reducing programs based on risk, season, and climate, a horse owner can make a major difference in controlling horse health on a farm.
Contagious Disease issues
As winter thaws and the days lengthen into spring, owners are preparing and conditioning horses for competitions and events that take them off the property. This places them in proximity to other horses, with increased likelihood of exposure to disease. Spring immunizations are an essential part of any disease control program, particularly against mosquito-borne viruses (West Nile virus and other types of encephalitis) and contagious respiratory viruses (influenza and rhinopneumonitis due to equine herpesvirus). Annually, owners should vaccinate against tetanus and rabies in endemic areas.
In addition to the incentive to travel more with your horse in the spring, there is more activity around the farm as well. Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz, a professor of
equine medicine at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has been instrumental in developing prevention and recognition programs to protect against contagious equine diseases. Traub-Dargatz recommends segregating new arrivals and monitoring for disease as critical elements of disease control on a property. She stresses that additional biosecurity efforts should include disinfection of all equipment that might have been contaminated with disease-causing agents. One such example (and only one of many possibilities) would be the inside of a horse trailer, particularly one in which horses from other farms have been hauled.
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