Biosecurity on the farm (Proceedings)
May 01, 2011
Maintenance of excellent health and biosecurity standards at the level of the farm is the MOST effective way of maintaining an outbreak-free industry. All disease outbreaks have an index case and all index cases have a point of origin. Because horses are usually maintained at a 'home" farm, then the origin of any outbreak should be traced back to the farm level.
Management and ownership of ANY farm can control disease outbreak and minimize risk to the industry. Control of disease at the farm level is through 1) exit and entry, 2) population management, 3) proper disinfection and 4) preventative health practices,. The focus of this discussion will be the first three. Finally if an outbreak occurs, the steps are outlined for outbreak control.
Exit and entry
Age and reproductive status management.
On multi-use farms, most biosecurity is aimed at protecting the mares and foals from infectious agents. This is important, but the healthy performance population really needs to be protect from the mares and foals! Epidemiologically fecal pathogens are MORE associated with young animals and, although not adequately, researched, the post-foaling and lactating is likely to be shedding organisms with which she is chronically infected or habitually exposed. In addition, the older horse may be prone to subclinical infections of many bacterial pathogens such as
Horses are not going to a dog park to play when they come to a new location. They do not need to romp around and get to know all the other horses. They do not need to be socialized. All horses that are shipped on and off farms should be maintained away from the resident farm population for a MININUM of 10 days and preferably 3 weeks. All temporarily stalled animals (such as for breeding) should NEVER have contact with the resident population.
For any sick horse, traffic, quarantine, and barrier precautions need to be immediately instituted. Not all farms have quarantine facilities and most do not! However, management can greatly reduce spread of disease and an outbreak.