As an equine health expert, I have dedicated my life to the care and well-being of horses. Today, I find myself compelled to write this heartfelt article due to the pressing circumstances surrounding the spread of diseases in the equine world. Despite the wealth of information available to horse owners, it is disheartening to acknowledge that many are unaware of, or neglect to follow, proper biosecurity protocols. In light of this, I emphasize the criticality of elevating equine biosecurity through the clean, disinfect, and protect approach. Our horses deserve the utmost care and protection, and it is our duty to ensure their well-being.
Statistics reveal the alarming reality that many equine health challenges stem from inadequate biosecurity practices. Surprisingly, a significant number of horse owners remain unaware of the simple, yet vital steps required to protect their horses. Reports indicate that a staggering percentage of disease outbreaks among horses can be attributed to lapses in biosecurity measures, ranging from inadequate cleaning and disinfection practices to a lack of awareness regarding the importance of vaccination and regular veterinary check-ups.
Biosecurity encompasses a range of measures designed to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases among horses. At its core lies the clean, disinfect, and protect mantra, which serves as a guiding light for us all. It is not enough to simply be aware of these steps; we must actively implement them to create a safe and healthy environment for our horses.
Clean: A Foundation of Care:
Proper cleanliness sets the foundation for effective biosecurity. Sadly, many horse owners overlook the significance of regular and thorough cleaning practices. By diligently removing dirt, debris, and organic matter from horse areas, we reduce the risk of disease transmission and foster a safer environment for our horses.
Disinfect: A Shield Against Pathogens:
Another critical aspect that is often underestimated is proper disinfection. The application of appropriate disinfectants to surfaces and equipment is instrumental in eliminating harmful microorganisms. Yet, many horse owners fail to adhere to disinfection protocols, inadvertently allowing the persistence and spread of pathogens within their equine environments.
Protect: Preserving Equine Health:
The final piece of the puzzle is protection. Unfortunately, some horse owners remain unaware of the importance of long-term biosecurity measures. By prioritizing the use of vaccines, regular veterinary check-ups, and consistent hygienic practices, we actively protect our horses from infectious diseases and promote their overall well-being.
In these challenging times, where biosecurity knowledge is often overlooked or neglected, it is crucial to seek reputable sources of information and guidance. The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) has emerged as a leading authority in biosecurity. Their protocols and certifications provide invaluable knowledge to horse facility owners and managers, equipping them with the necessary tools to implement robust biosecurity measures.
With a deep love for our horses, it is our responsibility to prioritize equine biosecurity and ensure the well-being of these majestic creatures. Despite the unfortunate lack of awareness and adherence to proper protocols among some horse owners, we can make a difference. Let us rise above the challenges presented by the spread of diseases and commit ourselves to the clean, disinfect, and protect approach. By doing so, we create a safer future for our beloved horses, foster a culture of responsible horsemanship, and protect the equine community as a whole. Together, we can elevate equine biosecurity and ensure the longevity of our shared passion.
About the Author: Dr. Justin Welsh is the lead for the Merck Animal Health Livestock Technical Services team. His team is responsible for supporting the commercial teams in the cattle, swine, and poultry industries in the US market. This team of veterinarians and nutritionists are located throughout the US. They focus on veterinary and producer education, as well as organizing and implementing research related to product life cycles and their uses in the field.
Dr. Welsh has been with Merck Since 2012 first as a field technical services manager and the last four years as Executive Director of Livestock Technical Services for the US business. Prior to joining Merck & Co., Inc. Dr. Welsh practiced mixed animal medicine in Scottsbluff, Nebraska as partner in Pioneer Animal Clinic for 18 years. His practice included cow-calf and feed yard consulting as well as equine medicine and surgery. He is a certified Animal Chiropractor and acupuncturist.
Dr. Welsh earned his undergraduate degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska and completed his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, Magna Cum Laude, from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He resides with his wife Julie in Desoto, Kansas. In his free time, he enjoys his family through team roping, golf, and outdoor activities.