Preventing Salmonella Spread in Horses

Here are some biosecurity practices you can put into place at the clinic and on the farm to prevent salmonellosis.

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Preventing Salmonella Spread in Horses
Hygiene and disinfection are paramount for preventing disease spread at clinics and farms. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Lucas Pantaleon

In the equine industry horses are constantly in transit to and commingling at venues such as veterinary hospitals, racetracks, horse shows, breeding farms, and training stables. Therefore, they are continually at risk of acquiring infectious diseases caused by opportunistic organisms, including Salmonella.

This bacterium is a common cause of gastrointestinal (GI) disease outbreaks at equine hospitals and farms. Salmonellosis is important to prevent because ill horses are difficult to treat and could die, remediating an outbreak is costly, and humans could also become sick. Because a vaccine to protect horses against Salmonella does not exist, environmental and equipment disinfection, isolation of sick or new horses, good hand hygiene, and education are crucial parts of an infection prevention program.

What Is Salmonellosis?

Salmonella enterica is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. The range of clinical signs, plus clinically normal horses’ ability to shed the bacteria intermittently, make managing salmonellosis difficult. There are three types of infected horses: silent carriers (those infected but without clinical signs and not shedding), subclinical carriers (no clinical signs) with fecal shedding, and shedders with clinical signs

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Written by:

Lucas Pantaleon, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, is an equine internal medicine specialist.

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