Biosecurity Practices for Horse Farms, brought to you by eXHorses
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Biosecurity Practices for Horse Farms, brought to you by eXHorses

August 18, 2019


Hello, I’m Dr. Betsy Greene, from the University of Vermont Equine Extension Specialist and also a member of the eXtension Horse Quest community of practice. Do you know how you would prevent a sick horse
from infecting all the others in your barn? So, first thing you need to know is how diseases are
transmitted in order to protect the other horses. First thing, you have direct transmission. So that disease could be passed from inhalation or
breathing, ingestion or eating, direct contact, touching, getting disease into an open wound or mucous membrane, or even
a direct bite wound, for example – rabies. Another method of transmission is indirect transmission. So that would include something like an insect vector, biting insects
infecting an animal or human and also a fomite. A fomite is actually an inanimate object that has been contaminated. So for example, taking a towel that has been contaminated
and then using it on another horse. So now that you know how diseases are transmitted, what would you
do if you had a sick horse in your barn? First things first, you want to isolate that horse. The ideal situation would be if you could keep that
horse away from other horse and human traffic. A lot of times people can’t do that, so if you
can find the stall that has the least traffic, and maybe that is a back stall, and maybe even rope off that
stall so that horses and other humans will not be passing through and potentially transmitting disease for you. So are you the person treating and caring for that animal? You can do several things to decrease the potential of disease passing. If you are the person taking care of that horse, you
can do several things to limit disease transmission. So, first of all do not share equipment. This includes brushes, water buckets, feed tubs, or any other
type of wheelbarrows, pitchforks or things like that. Treat that sick animal last or care for that sick animal last,
after you have taken care of the healthy horses. You can also use protective clothing, gloves, or even booties. After you handled the animal make sure to wash your hands
with soap and water, or some form of disinfectant. Now after the animal has returned to health, you need
to thoroughly clean all equipment and the stall, removing organic matter, and then disinfecting properly to make sure that the other horses in the stall and using that equipment are not infected later. Now you need to also protect yourself, because some diseases are zoonotic and that means that horse can actually transmit that disease to a human. Some of those types of diseases range from
Salmonella, Ring Worm, and even Rabies. For more information on horses and their diseases go to www.eXtension.org/horses.

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