In a new University of Guelph study at the Ontario Veterinary College, preliminary findings reveal that a perception exists among horse owners and some event organizers viewing vaccination as a ‘bullet-proof’ intervention that will protect their horse from ailments.

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While vaccination is important, it does not make horses invincible to infectious disease and there are many management methods to reduce the risk including quarantine and basic hygiene. The collaborative group of Dr Amy Greer, Dr. Kelsey Spence, Dr. Terri O’Sullivan and graduate students Gabrielle Turcotte and Juliet Germann have done work related to equine biosecurity in very different populations.

They are discovering good news among event organizers citing their veterinarians as their go-to source for information about biosecurity. Discussion and interest in more biosecurity information tailored to their needs seems to be on the rise.

Conversely, peer-perception has been identified as a potential issue for some horse owners that are worried about being labeled as the ‘overly cautious’ person if they are seen to be going beyond the ‘social norm’ of basic levels of bio security.

In the next phase of their study, the research team aims to raise awareness with a simulated outbreak scenario using a product called Glo germ, which has been used in human infection control studies, using UV light to track potential disease spread throughout a facility. In horse farm mock out-breaks they will be identifying high-risk areas and looking at the barriers and opportunities to help refine recommendations provided around quarantine and isolation of horses. Ontario horse farms interested in participating should reach out to Gabrielle Turcotte [email protected]

In the meantime, brush up on your biosecurity practices with Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Risk Calculator. The online resource shows the potential risks currently present on your farm and the most practical ways to decrease that risk.

The Biosecurity Risk Calculator resource assists horse owners and caregivers interested in learning best practices for quarantine protocols, the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, proper contact times, what ingredients are most appropriate for different surfaces, how to reduce breeding grounds for disease and more. Learn the simple ways to improve conditions on your farm for the health and well-being of your horses and don’t worry about being labeled ‘overcautious’. An ounce of disease prevention is worth way more than the pounds of managing an infectious outbreak.