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Title of Article: "NAHMS Conducts 2015 Equine Study"
Author: Valeri Buman, NAES

In May of this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) started its third national equine study titled Equine 2015.

The previous two studies were conducted in 1998 and 2005.

The necessary information for Equine 2015 will be collected in two phases. Phase I, which occurred from May through July of 2015, consisted of members of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) personally interviewing selected equine owners from 28 states. Participants from Phase I can then choose to continue by participating in Phase II.

This final phase involves having members of the USDA’s Veterinary Services visit the properties of the participants where they will collect biological samplings such as blood and fecal samples. Phase II will occur from July to mid-December of this year.

The questionnaire that NASS members used in Phase I was compiled using the responses from 2,435 different participants who consulted on a needs assessment questionnaire. These participants included equine owners, industry stakeholders and government officials from across the country. The needs assessment questionnaire focused on narrowing down the top three priorities in three categories: 1) management issues, 2) body-system problems, and 3) infectious diseases.

Under the management issues category the top three priorities included infection-control practices, which included vaccinations, equine identification and equine care and welfare. Equine care and welfare received the highest ranking in the management issues category. Other priorities included economics of equine ownership, housing/pasture access and management, including methods for cleaning and disinfecting housing areas, and reproductive management.

In the body-system problems category the top three priorities were respiratory, neurological or spinal and digestive problems. Some participants felt that other priorities such as leg/hoof, endocrine/metabolic, behavior problems and body conditioning issues also deserved more in depth focus.

And for the final category, infectious disease, the top three priorities included Equine Herpes Virus (EHV), Lyme disease and parasites and strangles.

EHV was the number one infectious disease recommended for study by all participants. Participants of the needs assessment questionnaire were able to add write-ins for more focus.

Some of these write-ins included geriatric horse care, overbreeding/over population and environmental impact of manure management and carcass disposal.
  NAHMS 2015 Equine Study

The needs assessment questionnaire allowed NAHMS to identify seven objectives for the Equine 2015 study:

1) Describe trends in equine care and health management for study years 1998, 2005 and 2015.

2) Estimate the occurrence of owner-reported lameness and describe practices associated with the management of lameness.

3) Describe health and management practices associated with important equine infectious diseases.

4) Describe animal health related costs of equine ownership.

5) Evaluate control practices for gastrointestinal parasites.

6) Evaluate equines for presence of ticks and describe tick-control practices used on equine operations.

7) Collect equine sera along with equine demographic information in order to create a serum bank for future studies.

Past President of the American Association of Equine Practioners, Nathaniel A. White II, says “This will help create awareness, improve horse husbandry to prevent disease, and focus research on the most important diseases affecting horses, including evaluating parasite and tick control.”

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