Slow Respiratory-Infection Spread

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Controlling the spread of infection is essential to minimizing down time. Having a plan to deal with these situations, and implementing it swiftly, will help. We suggest begin these management practices immediately if your horse is ill. The program only works if it’s strictly enforced.

• Keep barns well-ventilated. Obviously a sick horse shouldn’t be in a direct, cold draft, but it’s imperative that air circulate freely through aisles or above head level.

• Don’t overheat the barn. A tightly closed barn full of horses can stay remarkably warm. Humidity also builds as urine, feces and water evaporate, as well as water contributed from the horses’ respiratory tracts. If there’s moisture condensing on the windows, the barn is too warm. Infectious organisms are more efficiently suspended in warm, moist air.

• If the outbreak occurs at a time when flying insects are active, institute good fly control. Consider positioning large fans to direct air flow away from the well horses.

• When possible, isolate sick animals in a separate barn. If not possible, put them at one end of the barn and discourage anyone who doesn’t absolutely have to enter that area from going there.

• Monitor the temperature of all horses twice daily during an outbreak. Move horses with fevers away from those with normal temperatures immediately.

• If possible, assign a separate caretaker to sick horses. If not possible, at least assign separate equipment to be used only in that area of the barn and not taken into the “clean” area at all.

• If you must care for both, do well horses first. Follow that with horses with fever but no symptoms, and symptomatic horses last.

• Hang several pairs of coveralls on hooks in the isolation area. Anyone entering a sick horse’s stall should wear the coveralls, and take them off before leaving the area.

• Consider putting an “X” of bright red tape on the stall door of ill horses. Use a line of red tape in the aisle to mark the transition zone between ill and well horses, and use a yellow “X” to mark horses that have elevated temperatures but no symptoms yet.

• Position several containers of pop-up sanitizing hand wipes around the barn. Equine respiratory viruses can be spread by hand, just like human ones are.

• Never turn sick horses out in paddocks that also will be used by well horses.