Equine flu has made headlines in both the United States and Europe recently, as it has been affecting even horses that had been vaccinated against it. Though the type of flu differs slightly between the two countries, with the amount of horses traveling internationally, experts have recommended that vaccines for both strains be given to horses; not all vaccines cover both strains.
There were flu outbreaks in 12 states in the United States in October, November and December 2018. Though there are some cases of the flu each year, the high numbers of affected horses is a concern, Dr. Thomas Chambers of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky said.
In addition, in January and February 2019, outbreaks were reported in Belgium, England, France, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland. Nigeria also reported a significant outbreak.
The horses affected in England that had been vaccinated showed clinical signs that were less severe and of shorter duration, indicating that the vaccine was working at least partially.
Horse owners should be familiar with how to prevent and treat the flu, says Chamber. This includes:
- Know the signs of the flu. Often the flu begins with a harsh cough, fever and nasal discharge.
- Vaccinate with a vaccine that protects against both strains of the flu virus.
- Inquire about any outbreaks at the destination location if traveling; evaluate a horse's vaccination status or consider not traveling if there is an outbreak.
- Implement biosecurity measures such as quarantining sick horses as well as those new to the farm; limiting nose-to-nose contact; limiting shared equipment; handling sick animals last and using hand sanitizers after dealing with affected animals.
- Monitor all horses on the farm with an infected animal, taking temperatures twice a day.
- Only healthy horses should be permitted to travel.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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