The Horse

OCT 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Page 24 of 51 | The Horse October 2018 25 continued. By April 29, 16 days after con- firmation of the first case, veterinarians had identified 10 more in the quarantine barn, including seven "classic" cases with fevers and three with EHM. Flynn says this type of waxing and waning pattern is not unusual during outbreaks. Thus, she has a seven-day rule: She doesn't relax and consider the worst of the outbreak behind her until at least seven days after detection of the last con- firmed case. She also urges owners not to become lax on biosecurity protocols until at least 14 days after the last case diagno- sis or until the quarantine is lifted. "Nonetheless, thanks to the efforts of the owners, trainers, facility work- ers, and management, the virus was quickly contained and no new cases were subsequently diagnosed," says Flynn. "The quarantine was finally lifted and all horses released alive on May 15." From the Inside Out If you've never been involved in an out- break, you might not fully appreciate all the logistical aspects involved. Consider those 56 horses in the quarantined barn, some potentially brewing an infection that could easily spread down the aisle to other apparently healthy horses. All those horses still need to be fed and watered at least twice daily, handled for basic chores, and their stalls mucked by their respective owners, trainers, or grooms. If the owners or trainers have multiple horses at the event, they could have been traveling between quarantined and non- quarantined barns daily. And California's geography certainly did not help. "With limited available space in this region of California, finding an appropri- ate isolation facility and location for the quarantined horses was challenging, to say the least," Flynn says. In sum, it was a veritable logistical nightmare, especially considering that: 1. Each horse in isolation had at least one person entering the quarantined barn several times a day, increasing the risk of disease spread. 2. Veterinarians and event and state officials also entered the quarantine barn several times daily to make sure caregivers were following their recommendations. 3. Feed was being delivered to the quar- antine barn and waste being removed. 4. The owners/trainers/grooms could not abandon the event location until the quarantine was lifted, because some- one needed to care for each horse. This affected other events an owner might have had planned, the lives of everyone "stuck" at the outbreak location, and in many cases the day-to-day running of the operation back home. "This is why strict protocols were implemented to ensure personnel or sup- plies entering the quarantined area did not introduce or further spread the virus," Flynn says. Code of Conduct To minimize outbreak situations such as this, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has com- mitted time and money to research and publish guidelines on both biosecurity and infectious disease control, which were updated this year (available at aaep. org/guidelines/infectious-disease-control). Biosecurity encompasses all practices designed to prevent the introduction and minimize the spread of infectious disease agents in equine populations. The AAEP guideline's authors em- phasize that "many people focus on the 'outbreak management' aspect of biosecurity, but arguably more important are the day-to-day biosecurity practices that minimize the likelihood of a disease outbreak in the first place or make it easier to quickly contain an outbreak with minimal disruption and expense." Traub-Dargatz says the updated guide- lines include more details on biosecurity actions and protocols, a resource table for where to obtain supplies needed to implement the recommendations therein, and a worksheet practitioners can use to determine what risks to address. "Infection control efforts should begin with actions taken as soon as there is a suspect case," she says. "Once a diag- nosis is made in an outbreak situation, the infection control plans can be more focused based on what is known about a specific disease agent. The infection control guidelines developed by the AAEP assist veterinarians in responding to a suspect case of an infectious disease and provide guidance once a diagnosis is made through the specific recommenda- tions under each disease heading." Regardless of whether farms are fol- lowing preventive biosecurity steps or dealing with disease control, the key to success in an outbreak is isolation, which is often easier said than done. "Isolation is critical to quick control of disease spread," says Flynn. "Unfor- tunately, most facilities have limited or no area to isolate. In the Orange County case we used an arena and put up pipe corral pens because temporary tent stabling was not available. This is why pre-planning for the worst-case scenario is so important." Communication: Key to Success Both Flynn and Traub-Dargatz attest that communication also plays an inte- gral role in any outbreak situation. "Communication is essential during a disease incident," Flynn says. "Facilities with e-mail distribution lists for all indi- viduals on the premises are able to quickly provide accurate information and recom- mendations for disease control measures to implement. Lack of e-mail or social me- dia mechanisms to communicate hinders timely notification of individuals." "Communication can be a challenge Veterinary authorities designated an arena in which only exposed horses residing in the quarantine barn could exercise. COURTESY KATIE HATCH

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