Ontario Mare Tests Positive for Equine Influenza

The horse lives at a boarding facility in Simcoe County.
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A Quarter Horse mare at a boarding facility in Simcoe County, Ontario, is positive for equine influenza, and multiple other horses have clinical signs.
A Quarter Horse mare at a boarding facility in Simcoe County, Ontario, is positive for equine influenza, and multiple other horses have clinical signs. | Adobe Stock

On June 26, a 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare at a boarding facility in Simcoe County, Ontario, tested positive for equine influenza. This mare is one of several horses displaying signs of respiratory disease in the barn.

The horses returned from a competition a few days before the index case (a gelding) was examined for nasal discharge and slightly enlarged lymph nodes. S. equi testing was negative in the index case and the influenza-positive mare.

Within the next 48-72 hours, several of the horses in the barn developed similar respiratory signs. Some of the horses are vaccinated for influenza and have more mild signs.

The affected horses are under quarantine.

EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.

About Equine Influenza

Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that infects horses, ponies, and other equids, such as donkeys, mules, and zebras. The virus that causes it is spread via saliva and respiratory secretions from infected horses. Horses are commonly exposed via horse-to-horse contact; aerosol transmission from coughing and sneezing; and contact with humans’ contaminated hands, shoes, or clothes or contaminated tack, buckets, or other equipment.

Clinical signs of equine influenza infection can include a high fever (up to 106°F); a dry, hacking cough; depression; weakness; anorexia; serous (watery) nasal discharge; and slightly enlarged lymph nodes. Consider monitoring your horse’s health at shows by taking his temperature daily, which can help you pick up on signs of infection early and take appropriate measures to reduce disease spread.

Vaccination is an important and inexpensive way to protect your horse. US Equestrian requires proof that horses have had an equine influenza vaccination within the six months prior to attending organization-sanctioned competitions or events. Your veterinarian can help you determine what other vaccines your horse might benefit from.

In addition to vaccinating, following strict biosecurity protocols can help reduce your horse’s chance of infection and disease. Such measures include quarantining new equine arrivals at barns, disinfecting buckets and equipment, and preventing nose-to-nose contact between horses.

Click here to read common questions and answers about equine influenza. 

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