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Title of Article: "National Equine Health Plan Could Provide Early Warning System for Infectious Disease"
Author: Valeri Buman, NAES

NAES   Each year brings new hopes and new challenges for horse owners. And often times one of the challenges is infectious disease, some treatable, some fatal.

2010 brought an outbreak of equine herpes EHV-1 to Utah which ended up a nationwide problem when 425 horses in 19 states were found to be exposed to the virus.

2014 saw a 20 horse outbreak in California of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), which can be passed from one horse to another through the reuse of syringes and needles, and a West Nile Encephalitis (WNE) outbreak across 32 states.

And 2015 brought the state of Arizona a Vesicular Stomatitis outbreak as well as a delay to phase two of the 2015 Equine Study due to a nationwide outbreak of HPAI or bird flu*.

*Please read the NAES newsletter, 3rd Quarter 2015 for information on the 2015 NAHMS Equine Study. Phase two as been postponed
until Spring/Summer of 2016.

There are steps and regulations in place to help the spread of disease such as a 60 day quarantine period for horses brought into the country from foreign nations, a 200 yard quarantine area for infected horses and documentation of
testing before certain events including the Coggins Test for race horses that tests for EIA.

However, due to the slow dissemination of information which frequently originates from rumors, livestock owners often find themselves with an outbreak due to lack of warning or the inconvenience and cost of quarantining and testing healthy animals due to false information.

The American Horse Council, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the National and State Animal Health organizations have put together a proposal for a National Equine Health Plan which they are seeking funding for.

The cornerstone of this health plan is an Equine Disease Communication Center. This center, based out of the U.S. Equestrian Federation offices in Kentucky, would utilize a network of practicing vets and state and federal animal health officials to investigate and then disseminate accurate information concerning equine diseases across North America.

Vets and local owners would be able to report outbreaks in their areas as well as access current updates concerning
disease outbreaks, symptoms and signs of disease and proper habits and practices of equine care through their
website, social media and email blasts.


  • Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) – fever, coughing, nasal discharge, going off feed, abortion in mares, respiratory disease, hind limb paralysis, incoordination, loss of bladder and tail function.

  • Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) – also known as “swamp fever”, a blood born disease that causes the destruction of the red blood cells, causes anemia, weakness and death, there is no cure, most horses diagnosed with EIA are either euthanized or put under lifelong quarantine.

  • West Nile Encephalitis (WNE) – fever, weakness, paralysis of hind limbs, head pressing, convulsions, walking in circles, coma.

  • Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) – blister like sores on the mouth, tongue, nose teats and sometimes feet.

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