Whether you are a horse owner, handler or the manager of an equine facility, biosecurity plays an important role in keeping horses under your care safe and healthy.

Horses can be affected by many different transmissible diseases, including equine infectious anemia, strangles, and equine influenza.

Any time a horse comes into contact with new animals, people or environments, they may be exposed to novel pathogens. Biosecurity measures involve actions and protocols to protect livestock health by reducing disease transmission.

Examples of biosecurity guidelines include controlling access at equine facilities, designating quarantine areas for newly arriving or ill horses, practicing good hygiene, and using pest control.

Consult with your veterinarian to determine your horse’s risk of exposure to different infectious agents and to develop biosecurity strategies to reduce risk factors.

Biosecurity for Horses

Establishing and following effective biosecurity practices is important for every equine facility to protect the health of the horses residing and visiting there.

Biosecurity describes any action that is intended to protect a population from harm due to biological or biochemical agents.

In the equine industry, biosecurity involves the precautions taken to reduce the risk for and transmission of illness among horses within a herd, facility, or community.

Equine facilities that host events, have a frequent turnover of horses in residence, or that see horses from different regions comingling, need to be especially vigilant. [4]

Biosecurity involves managing a facility’s structural components and establishing operational procedures to minimize or prevent the spread of disease in the facility.

For example, facility managers can design stalls and turn-out areas including paddocks and pastures to reduce the risk for disease transmission between individual horses and groups of horses.

Examples of operational biosecurity protocols include controlling access to the facility, disinfecting stalls, vaccinating horses, and using disposable clothing and footwear.

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Reducing Equine Disease Transmission

Infectious disease can spread quickly between groups of horses. But effective biosecurity practices can contain the disease within a group and help to prevent large-scale outbreaks.

This is essential for preventing financial losses due to equine illness and may help to reduce or eliminate reportable equine diseases such as: [3]

Disease or illness may be passed between horses via vectors (living entities that carry pathogens including bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that can cause disease). Examples of vectors are people, dogs, cats, other horses, and wildlife.

Microorganisms are also spread via contact with fomites (inanimate objects that carry organisms on their surface). Examples of fomites are brushes, halters, buckets, horse trailers, saddle pads, and stall doors.

Potential Threats to Biosecurity

Any time your horse is exposed to new horses,