Just like with humans, when a horse gets the flu, they just plain don't feel well. They are lethargic, they're uninterested in food, they have runny nasal discharge, their lymph nodes may be enlarged and they are running a fever.
Equine influenza (EI) is a highly contagious viral disease that can put a horse on the shelf for weeks. Veterinarians recommend that for every day your horse has a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they should be allowed a week of rest to prevent potential damage to his heart. With EI causing a horse's fever to spike to 103-105 degrees, it can take a horse weeks to fully recover from an onset.
Since EI is a viral infection, antibiotics, are of no help. The virus simply needs time to run its course, and in the meantime horse owners should try to keep their horse as comfortable as possible, by offering him a dust-free environment to rest in (a paddock or a stall) away from other horses so as not to spread the disease, free access to hay and clean water, and Banamine to lower his temperature,
EI is the second most common virus in horses, behind equine herpesvirus. While it may not be common for a backyard riding horse that doesn't come in contact with other horses to contract the disease, for horses who travel to shows or races and are among many other transient horses, it is a major concern. The virus is spread through coughing via respiratory droplets.
Read more about EI at The Horse.
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