Influenza

Equine influenza is a major virus disease that causes flu like symptoms in horses and is from the group of viruses that causes flu in humans. This is a major viral disease present throughout Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

What is the incubation time?

Most horses exposed to the virus will show signs within a period of 1-5 days.

Most horses exposed to the virus will show signs within a period of 1-5 days.

What are the signs of influenza?

diseases. Viruses that are responsible for coughs and colds in Australia include Equine Herpesvirus, Equine Rhinovirus and Equine Adenovirus. Most of these viruses produce rather mild signs which include a discharge from the nose and coughing. Equine Influenza produces more severe symptoms with horses developing a fever and a dry hacking cough. Horses become ill and are reluctant to eat or drink for several days but usually recover in 2 to 3 weeks.

How is influenza virus spread?The virus can be spread easily from horse to horse as a result of droplets and also from nasal discharge and from things like infected brushes and rugs. The disease is very contagious and there is almost 100% infection rate in a population that has been previously unexposed to the virus.

Can it be prevented and treated?Because it is a virus, there are no drugs that influence the outcome of the disease. However many horses develop secondary infections with bacteria which can lead to pneumonia and other problems. Good nursing care and if necessary, antibiotics to deal with bacterial illness associated with the disease are important parts of treatment. The most important part of dealing with this illness is effective vaccination. Reasonably effective vaccines are now available featuring the two most important types of this virus but horses need to be vaccinated 2-3 times per year to ensure their immune status.

The virus can be spread easily from horse to horse as a result of droplets and also from nasal discharge and from things like infected brushes and rugs. The disease is very contagious and there is almost 100% infection rate in a population that has been previously unexposed to the virus. Because it is a virus, there are no drugs that influence the outcome of the disease. However many horses develop secondary infections with bacteria which can lead to pneumonia and other problems. Good nursing care and if necessary, antibiotics to deal with bacterial illness associated with the disease are important parts of treatment. The most important part of dealing with this illness is effective vaccination. Reasonably effective vaccines are now available featuring the two most important types of this virus but horses need to be vaccinated 2-3 times per year to ensure their immune status.

The most likely way that this disease could be introduced into Australia is through an imported horse and horse owners should be aware of this potential if there are any horses introduced onto farms or into stables. The most likely signs will be the rapid spread of a severe respiratory flu like disease which is more severe than the usual virus problems.

TAKEN FROM USYD

The Equine

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