Practical Biosecurity for Equine Veterinarians

Biosecurity, especially for ambulatory practitioners, can present challenges. Here, vets share practical tips.
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Biosecurity on horse farms and for equine veterinarians, especially in ambulatory practices, presents challenges and is imperfect. Farm managers and veterinarians should focus on practical, doable measures and routines to reduce infection spread. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Imagine a pristine equine hospital: The floors and walls are nonporous and easy to clean and disinfect. Antiseptic foot baths and surgical booties lie before the intensive care unit door. And veterinarians and technicians scrub their hands in pedal-operated stainless steel sinks between cases. In a perfect world, barriers such as these prevent disease-causing microbes (think equine herpesvirus or influenza) from spreading between horses.

But most of our horses don’t live in a perfect world, and most veterinary appointments take place in barns, not surgical suites. So, considering the environment and limitations for biosecurity, how can veterinarians and equine managers prevent disease spread between horses, especially during outbreaks?

To answer that question and find workable solutions, veterinarians and state animal health officials gathered for a table topic titled “Practical Biosecurity” at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, which took place Dec. 3-7, in Orlando, Florida. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, of the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada; and Tracy Norman, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, of Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, in Virginia, moderated the interactive discussion, which covered a variety of equine-related biosecurity issues. Two specific topics included horse farm and ambulatory practitioner biosecurity.

“The term biosecurity is really a misnomer when it comes to horses,” Weese said to the group as the session opened, and Norman nodded her head in agreement

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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