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Minnesota warning about horse disease

Highly contagious and potentially fatal illness detected in North and South Dakota.

Posted: May 3, 2018 12:14 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Horse owners are being asked to help stop the spread of a highly contagious disease that has been confirmed in North and South Dakota.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is a potentially fatal horse disease that was last diagnosed in Minnesota in 2015.

“Horses leaving their home farm to compete, breed or train can be exposed to a number of diseases including EHM,” said Equine Program Manager, Dr. Courtney Wheeler. “Owners and exhibitors entering Minnesota from other states are required to have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection verifying their horse has been examined by a veterinarian and is free from signs of communicable and contagious diseases.”

The Board of Animal Health says horse owners attending events need to adhere to rigorous and routine biosecurity practices to prevent the further spread of EHM and other contagious diseases. Diseases can be carried from one place to another by other horses, people, insects, trailers, and equipment (including tack, blankets, feed and water buckets, brushes, sponges, hoses or veterinary supplies).

If a Minnesota horse is confirmed to be infected with EHM or has been exposed to the disease, it must be quarantined.  Horse owners are being encouraged to follow these biosecurity tips when traveling with their animals:

1. Always use your own trailer and equipment. If you must borrow, clean and disinfect items thoroughly before exposing your horse and again before returning.

2. Don’t let your horse touch other horses, especially nose to nose.

3. Never put the end of a shared hose in your horse’s water bucket without disinfecting first. Don’t hand-graze your horse where other horses have recently grazed.

4. If you touch other horses, wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them well. Use disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Don’t let strangers pet your horse.

5. Clean and disinfect tack, boots, equipment, and grooming supplies before returning home. Make sure to clean off dirt and manure before disinfecting.

6. Shower, blow your nose (germs can survive a long time in nasal secretions), and put on clean clothes and shoes upon your return.

7. Keep returning horses separate from your other horses for up to 4 weeks. When doing feeding and chores, work with the returning horses last, wear boots and coveralls, and remove them before working with your other horses.

8. Don’t forget to wash your hands.

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