Equine veterinary advisor for the Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy (KBHH) campaign, Vicki Farr BVetMed MRCVS, has clained that "equine myths" are putting Britain's horses at risk.
Vicki Farr says that 'myths' believed by some horse owners - such as only vaccinating horse against disease if they're out competing - are untrue and present a danger for our horses if believed.
“It can be easy to overlook the importance of equine influenza as a disease, as outbreaks are relatively uncommon, but it is a myth that a horse only needs to be vaccinated against the disease if they are out competing," she says. "Influenza is an airborne virus which under favourable weather conditions can spread up to 5km!
“Equine flu can move quickly and easily through a yard, consequently your horse doesn’t need to leave the yard to be at potential risk. The disease is debilitating for your horse and can be distressing for you to witness.
“Vaccination is the main tool for preventing influenza and it is another myth that your horse’s vaccination status does not make a difference to any other horse. All horses need to be protected from disease. Although influenza is endemic in the UK, it’s estimated that less than 50% of the equine population is vaccinated against equine influenza. All horse owners should be encouraged to both protect their own horses through vaccination and to play their part in halting infectious diseases in the wider equine community.”
The team behind the KBHH campagin is also keen to stess that horses who do not compete or leave the yard are also at risk from Tetanus, which is caused by a bacterium (Clostridium tetani) that is found in the soil. “The bacteria enter the body through wounds, with punctures of the sole of the foot a common route of infection,” explains Vicki. “The bacteria then cause disease by producing toxins that affect the nervous system. In the majority of cases, tetanus is fatal. Other diseases such as strangles and herpes may also be a threat depending on the disease risk to the yard where your horse is kept.”
To find out more about KBHH, gain expert advice on preventative healthcare and for details of participating veterinary practices visit www.healthyhorses.co.uk