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Veterinary Health Center

Trail Talk
December 2020

Winter Horse Tips

  1. Respiratory disease is more prevalent in the winter. Don’t forget to vaccinate your horses for Rhino (Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 and 4) and Flu (Equine Influenza). These vaccines need boostered every six months.
  2. When it is cold, things freeze. Make sure water is fresh, available and not frozen. Your horse’s footing is also important, it shouldn’t be frozen/slick especially at water sources or gates.
  3. Pay attention to your horse’s body condition when it is cold. With a longer hair coat, body condition may be overlooked. In addition, horses use more energy to stay warm in the winter. They are also eating hay that may lose quality nutrients over time. If horses have difficulty chewing this roughage, they may need a veterinary oral exam.

What we found on VSV and how to prepare for next year: 

In June of 2020, the first few cases of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in horses were reported in Butler County Kansas. This disease eventually spread to 26 counties in Kansas during the summer and fall of 2020.
Clinical signs of VSV include ulcers in the mouth, coronary band, ear, and even mammary glands and sheath. This virus can also infect other animals including cattle, and less commonly sheep, goats, alpacas, and even humans (but rarely). This disease is very contagious, but death is not reported.
The question is, to many horse owners, why is VSV a big deal? It is because VSV is reportable, veterinarians must call the state office, and the virus does cause a decrease in weight gain and milk production in cattle (thus economic loss). The Kansas Dept. of Agriculture (KDA) will quarantine the farm/premise if there is a horse diagnosed with VSV. Currently the KDA will only quarantine the affected farm, and there are no rules regarding other farms around the quarantined farm.
However, other states may have different rules regarding VSV. Horse owners need to be aware that if there is an outbreak of VSV in Kansas, it will have an impact on travel of horses and livestock to other states or countries. Other states may require additional requirements before your veterinarian call write a valid health paper (or certificate of veterinary inspection).
If there is another outbreak of VSV in Kansas this summer, please have your veterinarian call the state you are planning on traveling to, to ensure there are not any additional requirements for a valid health certificate.
Also, check out this video update on VSV from Dr. Laurie Beard: (Originally recorded for the Kansas Horse Council)

Please contact your veterinarian and/or the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center with other questions at 785-532-5700.

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