Sadly we have recently had a few outbreaks locally of both strangles and EHV (Equine Herpes Virus.) Unfortunately a few horses have already died from the EHV and a few people are starting to get a bit worried. So I thought I would do a short and simple post about how to best protect your horse during a local disease outbreak.
Firstly, when you hear of an outbreak find out as much information about it as you can. What area is it in? Do you know what yards in specifically? If infected horses or other horses from an infected yard have been to any shows recently and if the vet feels it is necessary, the venue will contact those who competed at that event to inform them. Find out if you or anyone from your yard has been to any of these venues recently as all these things will help you to determine the immediate risk to your horse.
Secondly, research the diseases symptoms and vets advice. This is important as you can look out for these symptoms and get treatment as soon as possible if your horse does become infected.
Thirdly (and possibly most importantly) work on your bio-security. How strict your bio-security is will depend on how at risk your horse is. If a local yard (hacking distance) has become infected, you might want to be careful about what hacking routes you take and might even consider not hacking at all for a little while. You might also decide not to go to local shows, especially if you are not a very competitive person.
However, if you do decide to take your horse off the yard here are my guidelines for keeping your horse safe:
- bring all your own hay, water and buckets and do not allow ‘strange’ horses to share any of this
- do not allow your horse to say hello to other horses
- try not to let your horse graze
- don’t go patting other horses or allow others to pat your horse
- if stabling away bring all your own equipment and consider putting up barriers so that your horse can’t reach neighbouring horses.
- Avoid areas you know to be infected
- talk to your vet or the vets treating the infected horses for advice!
Although hopefully everyone at your yard is doing their best to stop the infection spreading to your yard, it is always worth taking some extra measures at home to help keep your horse safe:
- where possible have all your own equipment for your horse
- where possible limit your horses exposure and direct contact with other horses
- where possible limit your own contact with other horses and equipment on the yard
- where possible limit who is coming on the yard and their access to the horses and equipment
- on a bigger yard you might want to consider isolating horses who are more at risk of infection (ie compete regularly) from horses at lower risk
These are guidelines for before your horse or another horse on your yard becomes infected. If a horse on the yard does become infected, you should always talk to your vet and act on their advice.