Volume 1, Issue 6



Speaking Equine is brought to you by:

Dr. John Canning, DVM
(970) 963-4573


In this Issue:

Infectious Disease
Control in Horses

Creating a Vaccination Program

Steps to Disease

Book Review:
Animals in Translation


Speaking Equine
Mission Statement


Infectious Disease Control in Horses

An outbreak or a serious disease can happen at any time. Your efforts to prevent the spread of infection can save your horse's life. An effective Infectious Disease Control program requires you to evaluate your management practices and take precautions to reduce the chances of an infection invading your ranch.

People, other animals, equipment, and vehicles can carry contagious diseases to your horses. The terms infectious disease control, risk prevention, and equine biosecurity are all used to indicate measures to prevent the spread of diseases. Biosecurity is defined as management practices and procedures that can reduce the risk of infectious disease outbreaks. While the term biosecurity is more commonly associated with cattle operations than equine operations, a recent outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus and Vesicular Stomatitis at several equine facilities points out the need for concern.

In horse facilities, biosecurity should include:

  • Safe animal management practices
  • Control of traffic patterns around infected horses
  • Proper manure handling
  • Making sure water is not polluted

Check out our References section for helpful biosecurity resources.

The Cornerstone, Your Vaccination Program

An effective vaccination program is fundamental to the control of a contagious disease outbreak. When you consider the potential impact of diseases such as strangles, influenza, Equine Herpes Virus, Rotavirus, Salmonella, and Rhodococcus, it is easy to understand the importance of a comprehensive vaccination program.

Your veterinarian can help design a health management program to reduce exposure to infectious disease agents in your horse’s environment and lessen the incidence of illness. Disease control programs should be tailored to your individual needs with consideration given to ages, types, activities and number of horses in your program. Check with your veterinarian to update your horse’s vaccinations.

AAEP Vaccination Schedule

Steps to Disease Control

In addition to an effective vaccination program, good management practices are important in reducing the risk of disease outbreaks. The three most common methods of disease transmission in the barn are from:

  • Horse to horse
  • Human traffic in the barn
  • Rodents, birds, and insects gaining access to the barn or stored feed.

Not all disease control techniques are as labor intensive as completely disinfecting stalls and aisles. Rodent control is vital. Successful control requires an on-going program that takes place year-round! One barn mouse multiplies quickly and can spread Salmonella. Their droppings contain enormous amounts of bacteria that can contaminate the horse’s environment and feed supply with infectious bacteria. Infectious bacteria is one of the most common sources of infection. While mice are the most common problem, the control of insects, birds, and bats is also important. Remove standing water, bird nests, and other habitats. Hire professionals to remove bat roosts and also for difficult rodent or wildlife control. A couple of barn cats can also help to keep the rodent population under control.

One of the easiest and effective controls is to keep your barn and stable area clean. Keep grains and feed supplements in tight containers. Remember the old saying, “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Clean stalls on a regular basis, work to decrease harmful bacteria from breeding, and keep rodents out. It's also a good idea to provide hand-washing facilities with running water, liquid hand soap in a pump-style container, and disposable paper towels. When running water is not available, use waterless hand foams or gels with at least 62% ethyl alcohol. (Remember that these products are flammable!) To help stop the spread of bacteria, it is a good idea for all horse handlers to wash their hands prior to leaving the barn.

If you have a sick horse, isolate it immediately. Everyone working with a sick animal should wear protective clothing such as disposable gloves, booties, and coveralls. This clothing should be re-used only with that animal. Many people are allergic to latex, so it's a good idea to keep some nitrile or vinyl gloves on hand.

Stalls of sick horses should be mucked out last, using pitchforks, shovels, and other tools that are properly disinfected prior to their next use. If possible, use separate tools for cleaning healthy and sick horses' stalls.

Many times disease is spread when people walk between stalls. Make sure everyone disinfects his or her feet after being in the stall of a sick animal. Manure and bedding from stalls housing sick animals should not be spread on fields. This material should be composted away from all animals or disposed of in a manner approved by local ordinances. Clean and disinfect stalls, water buckets, grooming tools, pitchforks, and other items routinely. If you have an outbreak, increase the frequency of cleaning.

The stress of transportation and medical procedures can lower your horse's immunity. Isolate any new horses, or horses returning from a hospital stay for a minimum of 14 days, and ideally 21 days. The horse should be monitored for infectious diseases, and any necessary vaccinations and de-worming can be completed at this time.

Book Review: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

By Temple Grandin, Ph.D. & Catherine Johnson, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Barbara Livingston

It is rare to find a book that is a joy to read and at the same time merges animal management, human brain anatomy, and neuropsychiatry. Grandin and Johnson have a winner in Animals in Translation, a must read for everyone working in the fields of animal science, education, or psychology. This book links animal behavior with the bewildering condition of autism.

Dr. Temple Grandin Ph.D., who is diagnosed with autism, is a leading authority on animal behavior and has demonstrated extraordinary abilities to understand how animals see and think. With this ability, she designed humane slaughter systems that handle half of the cattle in the United States and Canada. She also conducts “animal welfare audits” of livestock facilities for McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Co-author Catherine Johnson, Ph.D., is a writer specializing in neuropsychiatry and the brain.

Animals in Translation is a compelling guide into the world of how animals think, feel pain, express fear, show aggression, and communicate. Grandin feels that her autism gives her insight into the animal world:

Autism is a kind of way station on the road from animals to humans, which puts autistic people like me in a perfect position to translate ‘animal talk’ into English. I can tell people why their animals are doing the things they do (page 6).

This book shows the genius intelligence of animals, if only we will listen and learn. There are a number of interesting NPR interviews with Temple Grandin.

Listen to an NPR interview with Temple Grandin


Reducing the Risk of Disease
Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

Promoting Bio-security in the Equine Community: A New Resource for Extension Educators and the Equine Industry
Presented by the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.

Protecting Your Horse from Disease Outbreaks
Dr. James R. "Sonny" Corley, Acadianor Equine Clinic in Lafayette, Louisiana. A member of the AAEP Public Relations Committee

Biosecurity-The Key to Keeping Your Horses Healthy
A brochure presented by USDA, Issued June 2005.

Speaking Equine Mission Statement

Speaking Equine specializes in client service packages for Veterinarians. We believe quality equine health care starts with informed owners, owners that know when to call their veterinarians. We consider the veterinarian the horse owner’s best friend when it comes to equine health care. Our Goal is simply to provide your clients the information they need to recognize problems and know when to call you. We want to help your practice thrive and prosper. We know and understand the importance of good communication in providing quality customer service.

Speaking Equine has developed a broad range of information services linking veterinarians and their clients. Each service is designed to make your client communications as effective and time efficient as possible. Our products include Information-Based Websites, Newsletters, Vet Alerts, Vet FYIs, the Owner’s Tool Kit, and the Vet's Bag. We provide solutions that enable equine professionals to communicate with their customers and market their services. You can focus on what is most important, taking care of your patients and growing your practice.

Joe Livingston
Speaking Equine
(970) 319-0098
Basalt, Colorado 81621



You will find more information on equine health care in the next issue of Speaking Equine. Sign up for your free email copy today. The Team at www.SpeakingEquine.com. ©2005 Speaking Equine