Managing and Preventing Transport-Associated Fever

Most horses travel without incident, but if one develops a post-transport fever that lasts for more than 12 to 24 hours or is accompanied by other clinical signs, it’s important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

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From trips across the state to flights around the world, today's horses are regular globetrotters. And while most horses arrive at their destinations happy and healthy, some will arrive with some unwelcome baggage: a fever and possibly even clinical disease.

At the 2014 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 10-13 in Birmingham, U.K., Imogen Johns, BVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, MRCVS, reviewed the diagnosis, treatment, and management of transportation-associated fevers in horses and shared tips on how to prevent them from occurring.

"Horses are typically transported in enclosed spaces with variable ventilation and can be exposed to high levels of inspired irritants such as ammonia from bedding and dust and molds from hay and bedding," said Johns, a senior lecturer in equine medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, in Hertfordshire, U.K.

Additionally, traveling horses commonly become dehydrated, which further compromises their ability to clear irritants from their airways and can lead to a lower respiratory tract infection, she said

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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