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What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity is any procedure or measure designed to protect the population against harmful biological or biochemical substances (source). In the equine industry, biosecurity refers to the precautions we take to limit the spread of disease when working with horses. These preventative measures are vital to maintaining the health of all horses regardless of their occupation, whether they be a companion animal, a working horse, or a show animal. Even the smallest precautions can help to keep horses safe from infectious diseases.

Prevention is Key

Best practices in disease prevention include a combination of following a vaccination plan and taking simple, but important, biosecurity measures in your barn, while traveling, at events, and when caring for your horse. Suggested biosecurity protocols differ depending on the situation and location. Listed below are some general biosecurity resources. Take a look at the biosecurity subpages which provide resources that are specific to common situations and locations to help you keep your horse safe, happy, and healthy at all times.

Here are a few things that everyone can do to help prevent the spread of disease:

  1. Optimize Resistance to Disease.
    1. Vaccinate. The first step to prevention is to keep your horse on a vaccination program that takes into account his/her job (pleasure horse, show animal, working animal, companion), general health status (age, history of illness, etc), amount of travel, and location (some regions pose more risk of disease than others). This vaccination program should be discussed and implemented with your veterinarian.
    2. Reduce Stress. Stress can compromise the horse’s immune systems and make him more susceptible to infection. Happy horses are more likely to be healthy horses.
    3. Optimize Nutrition. Adequate nutrition keeps your horse strong and healthy and gives him the tools he needs to fight off possible infections. 
  2. Reduce Exposure.
    1. Practice Biosecurity. Use all of our resources to determine what aspects of your horse’s daily life put him at risk for disease and establish a plan for reducing those risks.
    2. Limit horse-to-horse and horse-to-human interaction. This one is easier said than done given the gregarious nature of the horse but is vital to horse health. Horses and humans can be carriers for the pathogens that cause disease. Establish groups of horses on your facility to reduce intermingling and encourage all humans to avoid interacting with multiple animals without disinfecting between contact.

Video:

The Basics of Infection Control

Additional Resources for General Biosecurity

AAEP Biosecurity Guidelines, AAEP

Biosecurity Tips for Horse Owners, USDA/APHIS

Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (video), The Horse

Protect Your Horse from Infectious Diseases (Poster), Equine Guelph

Biosecurity for Horse Owners- Information Sheet- Equine Guelph