There has been a number of reports of significant infectious disease in our area. Here is a quick summary:
EIA – Equine Infectious Anemia is a virus spread by biting insects. It can result in a very serious, and untreatable disease. When you have a Coggins’ test performed on your horse, this is the disease you are ruling out. A 5-year old racing Quarter Horse was diagnosed positive in Fort Lupton and was euthanized May 8, 2017. Since this occurred before many of the biting insects were around in large numbers, the hope is that no other horses will be affected. The barn is under quarantine for 60 days and all horses will be retested at the end of that time.
Strangles – This is a respiratory disease caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi subspecies equi. This strep bacteria usually causes symptoms such as nasal and ocular discharge, coughing, fever and swollen lymph nodes that can rupture and drain pus. In severe cases, these lymph nodes swell to the point that they obstruct the airflow through the trachea, causing respiratory distress and even death. Rarely, it can also cause other symptoms such as colic, depending on whether the bacteria makes it to the abdomen. While we may see a couple of cases each year, this year has seen a higher than normal spread of the disease, including an outbreak at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, home of the Westernaires Equestrian Team.
Rabies – This is a nearly 100% fatal virus that can easily spread between animals and from animals to humans. Two skunks and one fox were recently found to be positive for this disease. No horses or humans have been affected at this time. The signs associated with this disease are neurological (loss of coordination, odd behavior, sometimes aggressiveness) Another common sign is the appearance during the daytime of nocturnal animals or animals that usually hide. This disease can be prevented through routine rabies vaccination. If your horse has not been vaccinated against rabies within the last year, please call us to schedule one.
Horse Positive for West Nile Virus in Weld County
A horse was diagnosed positive for West Nile Virus infection this week. The virus infected his nervous system and caused it to be unable to stand and move normally. This virus is routinely vaccinated against in our practice, and if your horse received the routine spring vaccination, should be protected against infection. It usually takes approximately 3 weeks after a booster for the vaccination to protect your horse. If you are not sure if your horse was vaccinated this spring, or if you are concerned that a booster may be indicated, please contact our office at 303-841-6006 or click here.
It appears that the skunk population has spread Rabies virus across the Denver area this year. To the right is the communication we received from the health department, which urges animals in contact with humans be immunized, or boosted as necessary for Rabies. This is especially important for horse owners because of the transmission risk due to exposure to a rabid horse’s saliva when putting the bit in the mouth or other activities that expose owners to secretions from the horse’s body. If your horse had it’s booster in the last year, he or she is protected. We consider the horse to be a “buffer” between wild animals like skunks that are infected and humans. Call the office today at 303-841-6006 to get your horse’s protection up to date!
Please share the following message with your staff:
Over the last two months, Tri-County Health Department has responded to four incidents involving skunks with confirmed or highly suspected rabies infection in urban areas of the city of Aurora. Three of the four incidents resulted in skunks potentially exposing both humans and pets to rabies. All people and pets have received appropriate follow up and treatment. Thus far in 2016, rabid skunks have been identified in urban areas of Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson counties. The geographic spread of skunk rabies westward through the Denver Metropolitan Area is unprecedented.
Public Health anticipates more incidents of contact between humans or domestic animals and rabid skunks in both rural and urban settings. Your office may be responding to calls or incidents represent a potential rabies exposure, which needs to be investigated promptly. Please follow these steps:
- Notify Tri-County Health Department at 303-220-9200 within 24 hours of any incident where a domestic animal (pet or livestock) might have had physical contact with a suspect rabid animal, including:
- Bites by rabies reservoir species (skunk, bat, fox or raccoon)
- Biting animal is acting sick, abnormal or has symptoms suggestive of rabies
- Biting domestic pet dies in quarantine
- Bites by wild carnivores (bobcat, coyote, mountain lion, bear)
- Contact Tri-Counw Health Department prior to euthanasia if a domestic animal bit a person within the past 10 days and the pet owner is requesting euthanasia.
- Actively reach out to clients with pets that are overdue on their rabies vaccinations and advise them to come in for a booster dose.
Spring vaccinations are an important part of keeping your horse healthy. The routine spring vaccine includes protection for:
- Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (also called “Sleeping Sickness”)
- Influenza (“Flu”)
- Rhinopneumonitis (also called “Equine Herpes”, EHV)
- West Nile Virus
These are diseases that are commonly encountered in horses. Here in Colorado, the highest risks of exposure are for West Nile virus and Rabies, as well as the respiratory viruses. We immunize for these in the spring because the encephalitis and West Nile viruses are spread via mosquito bites. Protection persists through the entire mosquito season. If your horse travels to the deep south or the coasts, a second encephalitis booster is recommended in the fall to provide year round protection for these diseases. Rabies vaccine should be boosted once yearly in the horse.
Please excuse our dust!
The construction continues around here, but we are proud to finally launch our new website. With all of the crazy changes around here recently — new doctor, new technician, new location, new shoulder! — we thought we needed a facelift too!
On a serious note, we are very thankful that you are visiting us! As we redesigned this site we tried to keep our clients foremost in our decision making. Most horse owners have come to realize, there is a LOT of information and advice online. However, judging the good from the bad has become increasingly difficult. We know that many people are seeing all sorts of things online because we often get asked about things people have read or heard about from a friend.
For these reasons, we are excited to build this repository of curated information and recommendations so that you have a trusted resource. Our practice has always strived to advocate horsemanship, basic veterinary education and animal husbandry. Please check back regularly as new information is being added often!