Tuesdays with Tony
I was perusing the email the other day when I saw this:
“Oh Goody!” I thought. I love a good disease outbreak! And who doesn’t enjoy the topic of influenza?
How Do They Get It?
Snot is the answer. Just like human flu, the equine influenza virus is great at traveling long distances in snot. Think about a good horse sneeze. Stuff flies really far! Aerosolized influenza virus can live for 3-4 hours. Virus on your hand can live for around 10 minutes. Imagine starting at one end of a barn aisle, or even worse, a warm up ring at a horse show, and petting every horse. You could spread a whole lot of flu really fast. Now imagine that influenza virus living for 3 days in a water bucket, or 2 days on a stall door. Influenza, like most respiratory viruses, is great at spreading itself around.
“My horse is never going to see another horse, ever!”
While one way to keep your horse from getting the flu, it’s not very realistic. How about you step away from the crazy horse owner ledge, and we talk basic biosecurity? That’s better. First off, don’t ever, ever, ever touch a hose to the water in a water bucket. This is a very effective way to transmit all kinds of bad things, influenza included. Be aware of other horses. Limit your time in large groups of horses. We all know what the in-gate looks like at a horse show. Don’t hang out there! The in-gate people will love you for not contributing to the chaos, and you will decrease the chances of your horse catching nasty bugs from the other horses. Use this same philosophy everywhere you go on the show grounds. You humans like to congregate. Be more like cats. Be a loner.
Here’s a novel thought: vaccinate your horse for influenza. This vaccine isn’t 100%, but a less bad version of the flu is WAY better. Want to really, really protect your horse from influenza? Use the intranasal influenza vaccine. You see, the flu virus gets into your horse (or yourself) through the mucosa that lines your nose, mouth, and windpipe. Intranasal vaccines get the immune system in these areas primed and ready to fight the flu virus. They keep the virus from even getting into the body to cause disease. Giving intranasal vaccines can be a challenge, but my Docs have a bunch of tricks, including clicker training, to make it easy peasy.
Keep ‘em Healthy
Want to give your horse the best shot of handling the viruses they will inevitably be exposed to when you leave home? Keep them healthy with good nutrition, and a good fitness program for what you intend to do. Slowly exposing your horse to the outside world will also help reduce stress. Stress is a great way to get a horse sick! Start with an hour-long venture to another farm. Don’t start with a two-week-long horse show that’s a 12 hour haul away from home. You have to train your horse how to be away from home just as much as you have to train them to ride.
The Flu can be scary, but with a few easy steps, you can significantly reduce your horse’s risk. Worried about the best answer for vaccines for your farm? Call my Docs. They’ll help you find the best answer for your lifestyle!
Now be a good human. Scroll down, and click subscribe. Get my words of wisdom a day before everyone else. If you want to know even more about equine influenza, check out Season 2, Episode 6 of our Podcast. You can listen right over your phone or computer for free!
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!