NAHMS Survey: Horse Disease Prevention

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Horse owners need to reduce the opportunity for disease transmission to horses.

It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all opportunities for the spread of diseases. Careful planning and strategic implementation of a biosecurity plan reduces the opportunity for the transmission of contagious diseases that can be passed through contact with non-resident horses, other animals, potential contamination of feed or water, insect and/or tick control and manure management.

Based on results from the most recent National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) survey, which was conducted in 2015, horse owners have taken precautions to safeguard the horses on their property from diseases. Opportunities remain for horses owners to implement additional biosecurity practices that can reduce health problems for the horses on their property and contribute to a longer and better quality life.

Here are a few points of interest:

  • The majority (81.8%) of operations store grain/concentrate/complete feed for resident equids. More than 88% of those operations stored grain/concentrate/complete feed in a manner that prevented fecal contamination by mice, rats, domestic and wild birds, livestock, dogs, cats, or other animals.
  • In general, biosecurity practices used on equine operations include cleaning and sanitizing (19.7%), infection-control precautions for visitors (11.2%) and the use of separate or disinfected equipment/tack (12.9%).
  • A higher percentage of operations in the Northeast region (7.5%) had 10 or more nonresident equids that stayed for less than 30 consecutive days compared with operations in the South Central and Southeast regions (2.9 and 3.5%, respectively).

The Equine Biosecurity and Biocontainment Practices on U.S. Equine Operations Info Sheet, prepared as part of the Equine 2015 study, provides study data relating to the use of biosecurity and biocontainment practices and strategies that can be implemented in operations for enhanced protection.

The study provides comprehensive health and management information. It was a cooperative effort between two U.S. Department of Agriculture Agencies: the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 

The full findings from the survey and corresponding Info Sheets are available at no charge at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/monitoring-and-surveillance/nahms/nahms_equine_studies.