WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #127
FROM HORSE AND RIDER - AUGUST 2011
Steps to take in the event an infectious disease strikes in your
IF there were an outbreak of an infectious equine disease in your
locality, would you know how to keep your horses safe? Or what to
do if they were exposed-or became ill?
We asked H&R's contributing veterinarian, Dr. Barb Crabbe, for a
step-by-step checklist to cover the various scenarios. Here's
what she told us.
First, don't panic. Turn to a reliable source, such as your
veterinarian, your local veterinary teaching hospital, or
appropriate state/federal officials for accurate information that
applies to your area.
You needn't automatically enact a stay-at-home policy unless your
vet recommends it. But don't take your horse anywhere there's
a known risk for the outbreak - such as a facility where horses
are known to be sick. Consult your vet about potential
vaccination protocols (though there won't always be one,
depending on the disease).
Follow normal precautions
To make sure any horses brought onto your property are screened
for disease. If you board out, check to be sure the facility
where your horse lives is following such precautions.
Monitor/isolate exposed horses.
If your horse does inadvertently become exposed to a contagious
disease, isolate him for at least two weeks (30 days is the
ideal) in a stall or pen at least 30 to 40 feet away from other
horses. Monitor his temperature every day, notifying your vet if
If your horse becomes ill, work with your vet to provide
appropriate care while keeping the sick animal isolated from
other horses. A separate barn is ideal, or else designate a
quarantine area at the far end of your barn, away from other
horses and the main traffic area.
Use duct tape on the barn floor so everyone knows where the
quarantine area is. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after
tending the sick horse, and keep hand sanitizer available for
additional cleanings and for visitors to use. Follow disinfection
techniques with all equipment that comes into contact with the
sick animal (see "Disinfection"). Always tend to sick or exposed
horses last in your daily routine.
Establish a dedicated wheelbarrow and fork for cleaning the
quarantined stalls; burn or otherwise safely dispose of the
bedding. Designate one pair of rubber boots and rubber gloves,
plus perhaps coveralls to use whenever you're in the quarantine
area; then remove them and leave them for use there only.
If need be, set up a shallow basin full of properly mixed
disinfectant so other individuals can wash off their footwear
before leaving the quarantine area.
For more information, type infectious disease in the search box
Items that can be disinfected when necessary include nylon
halters, bits, lip chains, grooming equipment, stalls, buckets,
shovels, pitchforks, and even shoes and car/truck ties.
* Remove all excess dirt/debris from items to be disinfected,
including stall floors and walls.
* Wash the item or area first with laundry detergent or dish-
* Immerse or thoroughly wet thye item/area with an appropriate
disinfection. Products that are phenolic-based (Roccal D) are the
most effective. (Although bleach is effective against most
viruses and bacteria, it's inactivated by organic material,
making it less-than-ideal in a barn situation).
* Rinse the disinfectant off thoroughly with plain water.