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Articles from 2020 In August

Texas suspends TAHC EIA equine rules

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has temporarily suspended portions of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) rules that require negative equine infectious anemia (EIA) tests results in the last 12 months to board, stable or pasture equine at congregation points. The rules were suspended to facilitate the evacuation of equine and equine owners in advance of Hurricane Laura making landfall.

“I want to thank Governor Abbott for acting swiftly to help Texans protect themselves and their livestock in advance of Hurricane Laura,” said TAHC Executive Director, Dr. Andy Schwartz. “Horses without current equine infectious anemia (EIA) tests should not be turned away from safe shelter during this time. Facility and equine owners can mitigate the risk of disease spread by regularly treating horses with fly repellant and isolating equine without current EIA tests, to the extent possible, from other horses.”

Caring for Livestock During Hurricane Laura

Floods can impact animal health as well as human health. Make plans for your livestock and horses in the event you will need to evacuate your farm. For an extensive checklist, click here.

Livestock Hurricane Preparedness

•            Know the types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.

•            It isn't too late to make an evacuation plan. Identify safe routes and safe locations (higher elevation) for your livestock.

•            Maintain an inventory of the livestock on your ranch.

•            Have identification for all livestock (ear tags, tattoos, brands).

•            Identify alternate water or power sources.

•            Call 2-1-1 for animal and human shelter information.

•            If you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1.

•            If you come across stray livestock or down fences, contact your local sheriff’s department.

•            If your animal needs medical assistance, contact your local veterinarian.

•            To find out more about livestock preparation visit http://www.prep4agthreats.org/Assets/Factsheets/Floods-andYour-Livestock.pdf


Horse skeletons provide clues to preventing racehorse injuries

Graphic by M.E. Newman, Johns Hopkins Medicine, using public domain images for the horse leg and bone, and a racehorse photo courtesy of M.J. Boswell Johns Hopkins Medicine horse bones.jpg
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers recently compared the third metacarpal, or cannon bone, from three different breeds of horses to better understand how it responds to mechanical stresses, like those experienced during racing.

Racehorses operate at a biomechanical extreme. The 1,000 lb. or so animals can move up to 40 mph on long, thin limbs that evolved genetically to move them across long distances. When pushed to race at high speeds, however, a horse's legs can fracture beneath it in an event called a breakdown, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

According to an announcement from the school, 70% of these injuries occur in the third metacarpal bone between the horse's knee and pastern (the area just above the top of the hoof). Because of the fragile nature of the limbs, breaks such as these can cause irreparable tissue damage, most often resulting in the animal having to be euthanized.

In an anatomical comparison of the third metacarpal (cannon) bone among Thoroughbred racehorses, American Quarter Horses and feral Assateague Island ponies, Johns Hopkins researchers have found that fostering adaptations in these bones through training might help horses better endure the extreme conditions of racing and prevent serious, often life-ending injuries on the track.

"With so many Thoroughbreds breaking their legs this way, we thought there must be a way to predict and prevent it," said Deanna Goldstein, a doctoral candidate in the Center for Functional Anatomy & Evolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author on the paper, which was posted online Aug. 17 in the journal The Anatomical Record.

To understand why racehorses break down, Goldstein studied the canon bones of the three breeds, comparing their sizes, densities and abilities to bend without breaking to examine the effect of each breed's lifestyle and training.

Thoroughbreds, for example, are trained to run long distances around turns for races like the Kentucky Derby. American Quarter Horses are trained to sprint short distances in mostly straight lines and are named for their superior ability to run a quarter-mile faster than any other breed. Assateague Island ponies are shorter, stockier animals that are wild, therefore offering an untrained population against which to compare Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.

"Comparisons between these breeds present an interesting opportunity to look at the relationship between the mechanical stresses on the bone and the bone's structural response in an animal that is pushed to its physiological limits," Goldstein said.

In the study, bones were collected only from horses that died or were euthanized for reasons unrelated to a broken or injured third metacarpal bone, she said.

Although the size of the third metacarpal bone varied among the three horse breeds, Goldstein was surprised to find that the bone's strength and structure relative to body size were remarkably similar across the three types.

"If Thoroughbreds are racing and training around turns, you would expect certain areas of their bones to be a lot stronger to reflect that," Goldstein said. "However, since the Thoroughbred third metacarpals are not more dense or stronger than the other two breeds, it indicates that the Thoroughbreds' bones are just not prepared for those forces."

She said what should be seen is evidence of bone remodeling — the process by which new bone growth helps the skeleton respond to mechanical stress. Similar to how weightlifting strengthens human bones, exposure to the stresses of racing around turns should create anatomical differences between Thoroughbred horses and other breeds. These adaptations would prepare their bones to resist fracturing.

Goldstein suggested that adding training around tighter turns at higher speeds could give Thoroughbred horses' bones time to adapt to the extreme forces and be more resistant to breaks on the track.

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EQUITANA USA’s 2020 Exhibition canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

Due to increased concern over public safety resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, EQUITANA USA’s live three-day celebration of the horse is canceled for 2020.

The world’s largest equestrian trade fair and expo was originally scheduled for Sept. 25-27, at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The event and its exhibitors, fans and performers will look forward to the 2021 event, slated forOct. 1-3, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

“EQUITANA USA is a shared place and time for all disciplines, breeds, ages and levels of the equineindustry,” said Meghan Margewicz, the event’s director. “But the safety of everyone associated with theevent is always our first priority. After many discussions with the Kentucky Horse Park, exhibitors,presenters and attendees, we made a difficult, but necessary decision to cancel this year’s celebrationand work to create an amazing reunion for everyone in 2021.”

All EQUITANA USA 2020 ticket holders will be refunded electronically. No further action by ticket holders is required.EQUITANA USA invites equestrian professionals, enthusiasts, and everyone interested in learning more to follow its social channels and e-newsletters for updates on the live 2021 event, a virtual celebration kicking off this September, and a year-round celebration of our community through digital education,entertainment and conversation.

Exhibitors interested in the 2021 event, virtual celebration, or year-round promotional opportunities can learn more at equitanausa.com or by contacting Kaitlyn Fritz at [email protected]

EQUITANA USA is a three-day celebration of the horse that invites equestrian professionals and enthusiasts of all riding levels and ages, disciplines and breeds together for education, entertainment, instruction and shopping.

VSV detected in Arkansas horses

Shutterstock horses in stable

Horse owners, as well as producers of other hooved animals, should be on the lookout for a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) among their animals that was recently confirmed in Benton County, Ark., according to an announcement from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

On July 27, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture issued an alert noting that several instances of VSV had been confirmed at an equine facility in Benton County, the announcement said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, VSV primarily affects horses and cattle, although it may affect other hooved animals such as sheep, goats and swine. People can also become infected with the virus when handling the animals and coming into contact with infected saliva or nasal secretions. VSV is primarily spread among animals through black flies and other biting insects.

The virus outbreak in Benton County appears to be a strain specific to horses, the University of Arkansas announcement said.

Heidi Ward, assistant professor and extension livestock veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said while VSV poses a potential threat to the state’s beef cattle industry, this particular outbreak in horses is likely due to the fact that horses are moved much more frequently, especially when county fairs and rodeos are in season. For this reason, she said, precautions must be taken when moving animals within Arkansas.

“Another reason why this is on the radar is that it can infect humans,” Ward said. “People can develop influenza-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches and headache. It’s zoonotic, so if people suspect infection in their animals, they need to take precautions for themselves by wearing gloves.”

The detection in Benton County is the first such case in Arkansas in 2020. Cases also have been confirmed recently in Texas, Kansas and Missouri that affect mostly horses but some cattle as well, Ward said.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has issued movement restrictions for horses in Benton County as well as the three adjacent counties: Carroll, Madison and Washington counties. In order to transport any equine (horses, donkeys or mules) off the owner’s property, owners must have a certificate of inspection issued by a veterinarian licensed in Arkansas and accredited by USDA not more than five days from the date of travel. The department also issued quarantine orders for all animals on the property where VSV was detected as well as animals on all adjacent properties.

Ward said horse and cattle owners should inspect their animals daily and take precautions seriously.

“Always assume when you’re handling your horse that everything you touch could be infectious,” Ward said. “If you touch them, make sure you’re wearing protective gear, especially gloves.”

In its most recent VSV situation report, USDA noted that since the 2020 outbreak began in April, 267 premises in seven states have been identified with either confirmed or suspected cases of VSV, but 142 of those have been released from quarantine.

Managing for vesicular stomatitis in horses

Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services Oklahoma State horses pond.jpg
Horses infected with vesicular stomatitis must be quarantined, but most recover with proper treatment.

With vesicular stomatitis (VS) confirmed in surrounding states, Oklahoma horse owners were warned to be on the lookout for signs of the disease in their animals, and now a case has been confirmed in Washington County, Okla., according to Oklahoma State University Extension.

VS is a contagious viral disease that — while rarely life threatening — can have a significant financial impact on an individual horse owner and the state’s equine industry, said Dr. Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian.

“Vesicular stomatitis is a reportable disease. State and federal animal health authorities will be contacted by a horse owner’s local veterinarian, and the state veterinarian will quarantine an affected farm or ranch if a case is confirmed through testing,” he said.

There is currently no U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved vaccine available.

So far in 2020, the viral disease has been reported in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona and now Oklahoma.

Oklahoma law requires that horses and other susceptible animal species must be confined to a quarantined location for at least 14 days from the onset of the last case on the property. Equestrian event organizers may choose to cancel horse shows, rodeos and similar events in the surrounding area, Oklahoma State Extension noted. Interstate movement of horses also may be restricted.

Symptoms include blister-like lesions on the tongue, mouth lining, nose or lips of an affected horse. Excessive salivation, difficulty eating and swelling of the coronary band also may be seen. In some cases, the lesions develop on a horse’s udder or sheath. Whitworth said a horse manager should contact a veterinarian immediately if such symptoms are observed.

The disease can be passed from horse to horse by contact with saliva or fluid from ruptured blisters.

“Insect control programs should be implemented, as insects are the primary manner in which the virus is spread,” Oklahoma State Extension equine specialist Kris Hiney said. “Physical contact between animals or contact with buckets, equipment, housing, trailers, feed, bedding, shared water troughs or other items used by an infected horse also can provide a ready means of spread.”

Oklahoma State recommendations include the following to help prevent the occurrence of VS:

  • Healthy horses are more disease resistant, so provide good nutrition, regular exercise, deworming and routine vaccinations.
  • Isolate new horses for at least 21 days before introducing them into a herd or stable.
  • Implement an effective insect control program, because certain types of flies and midges can transmit the disease. Remove manure promptly, and eliminate potential breeding grounds for insects such as standing water and muddy areas.
  • Use individual rather than communal feeders, waterers and equipment.
  • Clean and disinfect feed bunks, waterers, horse trailers and other equipment regularly.
  • Be sure farriers and other equine professionals who come into direct contact with the horse exercise due caution so as not to spread the disease from one horse or facility to the next.

For facilities where VS has been confirmed, horses with lesions should be isolated from others, Oklahoma State Extension said. Healthy animals should always be handled first and ill animals last. Handlers should then shower, change clothing and disinfect equipment to prevent exposing others. Anyone handling infected horses should implement proper biosafety methods, including wearing latex gloves and washing hands after handling animals with lesions.