equine influenza at world equestrian center

Three horses at the World Equestrian Center (WEC) in Wilmington, Ohio, have tested positive for equine influenza, the site’s management said in a Feb. 12 statement.

Show veterinarian Holly Helbig, DVM, informed management of the positive rests. All three horses have tested negative for Streptococcus equi (which causes strangles) and for equine herpesvirus-1 and -4.

When the affected horses exhibited signs of equine influenza, Helbig isolated them at the WEC Veterinary Clinic, where they’ve been under her care and supervision since Sunday (Feb. 10).

The WEC management said the center will continue to observe all recommended biosecurity measures and be vigilant in its effort to avoid the spread of the virus by continuing to disinfect and sterilize stabling, wash racks, walkways, and common areas on the show grounds.

Helbig will continue to test any horse that demonstrates clinical signs of disease and horse show management will remain proactive in communicating with exhibitors. Individuals with questions or concerns are asked to contact horse show manager Brandon Saxton at 216/554-2049 or Helbig at 330/807-2643.

In the meantime, the World Equestrian Center recommends horse owners and caregivers observe biosecurity recommendations and adhere to vaccination schedules as recommended by their veterinarians.

equine influenza at world equestrian center

Influenza 101

Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects 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; humans that pick up the virus on their hands, shoes, or clothes; tack, buckets, or other equipment; and aerosol transmission from coughing and sneezing.

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