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BOAH: Keep Horses Healthy This Spring and Summer
Indiana Ag Connection - 03/13/2018

As warm weather approaches more horse owners will be traveling with their animals. Before loading the trailer and leaving the barn, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) offers owners recommendations to keep horses healthy this season.

Update animals' vaccinations. This should be done sooner, not later. Many vaccines require 4 weeks to 6 weeks to become effective. Owners should not wait to establish protection--especially for insect-borne diseases, like Eastern and Western equine encephalitis (EEE and WEE) and West Nile virus (WNV). The annual boosters (which are available in convenient combination products) must be administered in two doses, 3 weeks to 4 weeks apart, before they will provide immunity.

Likewise, equine influenza, tetanus, strangles and rabies can be prevented through vaccination.

A veterinarian can discuss risk factors and vaccination options for equine herpesvirus (EHV). "The EHV vaccine may provide protection against the respiratory and abortion forms of the disease, but not the neurologic form. Recent findings across the country should motivate owners to vaccinate their traveling horses," said Dr. Sandra Norman, BOAH veterinarian for equine programs.

Practicing biosecurity--or disease prevention--should also be a top priority of every horse owner.

Owners should be aware that their own actions can prevent the spread of disease wherever animals gather, like at trail ride and show events. "Sharing tack or water buckets are common ways to spread diseases between horses," explained Dr. Norman. Even something as simple as a water hose sitting in a bucket can pass organisms from animal to animal.

That is why cleaning and disinfecting all tack and equipment, as well as stalls, trailers and vehicles is important to stopping disease spread. Most of all, ill horses should stay home and out of events until they have recovered. A veterinarian can help develop a plan to prevent the spread of disease such as EHV and strangles within a stable or breeding facility.

Pest control should be a priority at all horse sites. Dr. Norman recommended reducing mosquito populations whenever possible as an extra step. This includes draining standing water from birdbaths, troughs and other containers. "Dawn and dusk are high insect-exposure times. Owners may want to stable their animals overnight to provide added protection. Insect repellents should be used judiciously, and always according to label directions," said Dr. Norman.

Horses that travel outside of Indiana will need an equine infectious anemia (EIA) test (aka, "Coggins"). Though not required for Hoosier horses moving within Indiana, a Coggins is required in many other states and the length of time the test is considered current varies from state to state. When traveling, owners should obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) written within the previous 30 days from a veterinarian and verify up-to-date rules and regulations for entering the state-of-destination.

For more information about equine health, visit the BOAH website at:

Information about equine disease detections nationwide are available on the Equine Disease Communication Center at:

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