Biosecurity and Salmonella

He mentioned a study that revealed 85% of horses on one farm were shedding Salmonella, and he said many farm managers are realizing these infections aren’t just a hospital problem anymore.

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Probably one of the most well-attended equine sessions of the forum was a lunchtime discussion sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, in which a panel of internists presented information on recent outbreaks of salmonella and fielded questions from attendees. Salmonella bacteria can cause debilitating intestinal problems and life-threatening diarrhea. Salmonella can affect foals and adults, and it is spread easily by horse-to-horse contact and by fomites (shared tools, water buckets, hands, etc., on which bacteria can "hitch a ride" to the next victim). Seemingly well horses can harbor the bacteria, and when stressed, they can shed it or become ill.

So an ill horse that’s stressed by traveling and adapting to a hospital environment is a prime candidate to shed Salmonella bacteria, even if that wasn’t the orginal illness.

Practitioners from several university hospitals and private facilities say their practices are spending $10,000-$30,000 per year on surveillance of incoming horses for Salmonella, and that it has paid off for them. An outbreak of the disease among hospital patients is deleterious for animals with already compromised health.

"We need to be logical about the transmission risk and segregating different horses," explained Paul Morley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, associate professor, Epidemiology and Biosecurity, director of Biosecurity, James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital director, Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University. "This is part of the basic structure of a sound biosecurity program," he said. "But we don’t really know how much is enough

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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