Equine diseases are a threat – a study of disease risks related to imported horses and prevalence of equine diseases


<p>There are serious equine diseases in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Were they to spread into Finland, it would cause great damage to both equine husbandry and the well-being of horses. This risk is a considerable one, as every month 100 - 200 horses are imported from abroad to Finnish stables. Horses also travel frequently to international horse shows and races.</p>

Information needed about prevalence of diseases
So far information obtained about the prevalence of serious equine diseases has been based on random examinations of sick animals, as actual disease prevalence studies have not been conducted. The purpose of the project about to be launched, called ”Control of infectious diseases in support of equine husbandry”, is to provide information about the prevalence of the most important equine diseases. The study focuses on imported horses and their disease risks on risk-informed basis.

Equine industry cooperates
The project is conducted under the leadership of Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. Cooperation partners include the Finnish Trotting and Breeding Association (Suomen Hippos ry), the Finnish Equine Information Centre (Suomen Hevostietokeskus ry) and the University of Helsinki. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has granted funding for the project and the project is steered by key operators in equine husbandry. The research project is launched in the autumn of 2012 and will run until the beginning of 2014.

Samples from imported horses and stallions at stud
The samples from imported horses will be analysed for signs of EIA (Equine Infectious Anaemia) or the West Nile Virus, neither of which has so far been found in Finland. The horses will also be sampled for viral arteritis and herpes virus infections as well as bacteria that cause equine strangles. The samples are collected by the regional Equine Breeding Unions from identifiable imported horses during a period of one year starting in October 2012. Part of stallions at stud will be examined in the spring of 2013 for viral arteritis.

Veterinarians requested to submit disease samples
During the project, veterinarians can send samples without charge to Evira for analyses, if they suspect that the horse might be carrying one of the infectious diseases referred to above. Horse owners can remind veterinarians about this possibility.

The project pays for the laboratory analyses and the postage. The owner of the horse is responsible for any other costs.

Current disease risks
The most topical threat of a serious equine disease is that of Equine Infectious Anaemia. It occurs in several European countries. The West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and can be contracted by different animal species as well as humans, is prevalent in Eastern and Southern Europe. These diseases are pursuant to the Animal Disease Act classified as controlled diseases and should they be diagnosed in Finland, regulatory eradication action would follow.

Many unpleasant, but less serious diseases already prevail in Finland. Imported animals can bring viruses as well as strains of bacteria and intestinal parasites that cause also these diseases. This can result in the spreading of e.g. viral arteritis or spontaneous abortions and neurological diseases caused by herpesvirus 1 infections, as well as strangles cases.

Information on the research project
Etusivu > Evira > Esittely > Toiminta > Tieteellinen tutkimus > Hankkeet > Käynnissä
> Control of infectious diseases in support of equine husbandry

For more information, please contact:
Project leader, Professor Sinikka Pelkonen
tel. +358 0400 287 061, Veterinary Bacteriology Research Unit, Evira
Ulla-Maija Kokkonen, Senior Researcher
tel. +358 50 526 2065, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, Evira

Related Categories: