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What to do in the event of an equine disease outbreak

April 2021

If you are concerned that a horse may have been exposed to a contagious disease, has a high temperature or is showing signs of illness, isolate them immediately and contact your vet. Set up a designated, isolated area so people know not to go near or touch the horse. Closely monitor the horse and how much they are drinking and eating.

Implement the traffic light system to colour code horses on the yard into the following groups:

RED

Horses showing any clinical signs of disease and confirmed cases.

Action:

  • Immediately isolate from all other horses. Any infected or suspect horses should ideally be moved to a different location on the property well away from the healthy horses.
  • Seek veterinary attention and support.

AMBER

All horses who have been in any contact with those in the RED group in the past 3 weeks but are not showing clinical signs.

Action:

  • Keep separate from those in the RED and GREEN groups.
  • Closely monitor for the development of any clinical signs of disease.
  • Take temperature twice daily. An increased temperature often appears before any clinical signs of disease.

GREEN

All horses who have no contact with either RED or AMBER group horses in the last 3 weeks and showing no clinical signs of disease.

Action:

  • Keep separate from those in the RED and AMBER groups.
  • Closely monitor for the development of any clinical signs of disease.
  • Take temperature twice daily.

More steps to take

  • Colour coordinate all equipment, so everything is kept within the relevant colour zone.
  • If possible, avoid changing staff members caring for horses in each group. If staffing is limited, horses should be handled in the order of Green, Amber, Red, with a change of coveralls, disinfected boots and hand washing between each isolation group.
  • Keep records and monitor all horses closely.
  • It’s important that horses in ALL groups are not moved from the yard, they may be harbouring a disease but not yet showing any signs.
  • Work closely with your vet and ensure that no horse is moved out of their isolation group until they are confirmed as being completely disease free. If you have horses under different vets on the yard, all should be informed so they can work closely. In such cases a lead vet is often nominated to ensure clear communication between all involved and avoid multiple vets entering the yard.

Disinfecting a Lorry equipment

 

Speak out!

Speaking out is a vital part of a proactive response to help prevent further disease spread and promote good practices on the yard. If you have any reason to suspect a horse may have a contagious disease act immediately and warn other yards in your area along with any visitors to your yard, for example a farrier. We should commend and support those yards who take this action.

Further information

 equine disease prevention

vaccinations

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