Horses get sick and most of the time they can be treated with traditional medication and the horse’s illness remains confidential between the owner and their primary veterinarian. In some cases, a horse can become infected with a reportable disease. This means that your veterinarian is required by law to report the diagnosis to the state veterinarian. Depending on the disease, there are different procedures that need to be followed.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services publishes a map called “Florida’s Reportable Equine Disease Map” that is updated at least once a month. On the explorable and interactive map, users can see reported equine diseases in the state of Florida. This information helps owners understand what their local risks are, and helps veterinarians and owners have an open dialogue about the best preventative care for their area.
The reportable diseases in Florida are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), West Nile virus (WNV), Rabies, Strangles, Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) and Equine Piroplasmosis.
EEE, EHV-1, EIA and WNV are all viral diseases with no specific cure, although some can be treated supportively. Rabies is a fatal zoonotic (can be passed to humans) virus that is spread thru the bite of an infected animal. EEE, EHV-1, WNV and Rabies all have vaccinations that help reduce the risk of infection. EIA can be avoided by making sure all horses moving to a new facility have a current negative coggins test.
Strangles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is similar to strep throat in humans. Affected horses should be quarantined but will typically recover. There is a vaccination but efficacy of the vaccine is debatable. The best way to prevent spreading strangles is to use isolation quarantine for any new horses to a property for 2-3 weeks.
The state veterinarian must be notified for all reportable diseases to help equine veterinarians and owners throughout the state. Awareness will help save lives, as well as economic distress. Partner with your veterinarian to decide what vaccines and preventative treatments are best for you and your herd to stay safe from these illnesses.
This column is sponsored by Polk Equine, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. She specializes in equine medicine.