, 19 April 2013
Outbreaks of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), the virus that causes abortion, respiratory disease and neurological disease in horses, have been affecting areas of Devon, Somerset, East Anglia and Gloucestershire since November 2012. All six outbreaks have caused neurological signs in the affected horses and horse owners in affected areas have been warned to watch out for signs of the virus — which include coughing, a raised temperature, dullness and the horse appearing wobbly.
As one of the original EHV-1 outbreak areas, Badminton Horse Trials has carried out extensive biosecurity measures to ensure the safety of visiting competitors. However, Badminton has cancelled the Sports Horse Stallion Parade as a result of concerns for the health of both the 3-day event competitors and stallions, which seems a very sensible precaution.
The Animal Health Trust which is confirming the EHV-1 outbreaks recommends that if owners are concerned that their horse may have been exposed to EHV-1, they should consult their vet for advice. They also recommend that if owners suspect that a horse is infected or has been exposed, they are asked to act responsibly and avoid moving the animal until it has been given the all clear by the vet.
Transmission of the virus is usually via the respiratory route, such as contact with infected nasal secretions or contact with contaminated drinking water. Close contact facilitates the transmission of the virus but importantly owners and yard managers should be aware that the virus can remain viable in the environment for several weeks once it has been shed from the horse which means that effective biosecurity must be a priority.
Should owners be unlucky enough to have a new EHV-1 outbreak suspected or confirmed, strict biosecurity measures and isolation should be put in place as soon as a horse shows signs of infection. Infected horses should be isolated within a biosecurity perimeter with restricted entry into the designated isolation area. Only essential staff should have access to the infected horses and they must use well marked footdips filled with an approved disinfectant such as Chemours Virkon® S at a 1:100 dilution. The disinfectant must be changed on a daily basis. All other visitors should be kept outside the biosecurity perimeter.
Virkon® S is a scientific breakthrough with performance characteristics that have defined biosecurity standards. Not surprisingly, Virkon® S is selected by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Governments worldwide to secure biosecurity and strengthen Emergency Disease Control (EDC) contingency planning.
After the quarantine period is completed, usually 28 days, cleaning and disinfecting the isolation stables, farm buildings and adjacent pathways should be carried out in accordance with a procedure used for pig and poultry houses which is known as a ‘terminal biosecurity programme’. Protective equipment comprising of respirator face mask; eye protection, Tychem® coveralls; heavy duty rubber gloves; and rubber or polyurethane boots should be worn and the buildings should be left to dry for 24 hrs after cleaning and disinfection.
We sincerely hope that these measures will not be needed for your yard, but for advice on how to carry out terminal disinfection programmes, or for assistance with the development and implementation of biosecurity programmes, including Virkon® S usage please visit www.virkons.com
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