Click here for statewide alerts on infectious disease outbreaks in horses
Jennifer Gaumnitz is a senior content specialist with dvm360.com. She has worked for the organization in its various incarnations for more than 34 years (thus, the "senior"), for several years serving as managing editor of Veterinary Medicine magazine. She has a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with an emphasis in Science Writing and a minor in Zoology from Iowa State University.
This easy-to-use online tool keeps you current on equine infectious disease cases occurring in your state.
At the 2017 Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, I overheard a Missouri equine veterinarian describe being called out to see a horse that was exhibiting clinical signs he suspected were the result of a rabies infection. It turned out that the diagnosis was instead a West Nile virus infection, and unfortunately the horse ended up being euthanized.
This is a depressing story because, of course, there are vaccines to prevent West Nile virus (and rabies, had that been the diagnosis); this horse simply was not vaccinated. The veterinarian commented that the owners, who had not been his clients, quickly became believers in vaccinating their remaining horses. This case followed on the heels of an equine infectious anemia outbreak in Finney County, Kansas, in August 2017, and all of this set me to wondering about what equine diseases were occurring in my state (Kansas) and the surrounding states.
Turns out there's an easy-to-use, up-to-date website where you can keep informed about all kinds of equine disease outbreak information. The Equine Disease Communication Center maintains the site here: equinediseasecc.org/alerts/outbreaks.
You simply click on the state you're investigating (or use the dropdown menu) and choose the disease you're interested in. Then you choose a time frame (30, 60 or 90 days) to see if there are any alerts for that particular disease in that state. Updates on current disease outbreaks are listed as they occur and include the date added, the disease name, the location and current status. Specific premises are not named but the general location by town, county and state are listed. When locations, events or horses are at risk, they will be listed. Updates are posted as they are received.
The diseases or infectious agents you can choose include coronavirus, equine herpesvirus, equine infectious anemia, rabies, strangles, West Nile virus, and Eastern and Western equine encephalitis, as well as a dozen others.
Below is a short video clip demonstrating the use of the website, using the report of an equine herpesvirus case on January 16, 2018, that resulted in the self-imposed quarantine of the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
As an extra service, you can also subscribe to the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) Outbreak Alert email list by clicking on the “Sign up for Email Alerts” button on the website and filling out the registration form. EDCC emails will include notification of outbreak alerts for infectious diseases reported in the United States, information pertaining to those outbreaks and biosecurity details.