The Jurga Report covers disease outbreaks, and we often post important information about spreading diseases via horse to horse contact. We write about isolation stalls for new horses, about avoiding nose-to-nose contact at shows, about the hazards of sharing water or feed buckets, and the importance of vaccinations.
The list of ways to set up your barn or showgrounds stable area to prevent disease is long, and important. But there are two other avenues that can spread disease, and today we'd like to share videos about those, thanks to our friends at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky.
The first important incubator of equine disease is the horse transport system. Whether you hire a commercial hauler, borrow a horse trailer, or are just opening up your own trailer after a winter in the snowbank, it's time to get familiar with how a trailer should be disinfected whenever you haul a horse to a vet clinic or when strange horses have been in your horse's home on wheels.
Dr. Nathan Slovis of Hagyard explains that commercial haulers should be disinfecting their rigs before your horse is loaded on for that trip, no matter how long or short. The three steps of the process--clean with detergent, rinse, disinfect--are the same whether you have an air-cushioned ride or a one-horse bumper-hitch.
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So if you're getting ready for the first spring shows, don't think just about shedding out your horse and cleaning up your tack--think about the trailer. And while you're at it, start a plan that will remind you to clean your truck cab before and after a trip to the vet clinic, especially if there's a disease outbreak in the area.
I would like to compliment Chris on his technique in this video. If that was me with the hose sprayer in the trailer, I'd be soaking wet!
The second area to think about disinfecting is your own hands. We get obsessed about buckets and blankets and horse walkers being home to possible infection but we don't always think about our own hands and the germs that could be living on the faucets. For many of us, there's no running warm water in our barns, so washing hands might mean a trip into the house or a hike to the restroom at the showgrounds, but it is just as important.
How many of us have some old towels in the tack room that we use to dry out hands? Paper towels are anathema to all of us trying to encourage greener horse barns, and you can be sure that the regular emptying of trash bins full of crumpled paper towels is a task that will require some commitment.
You can bet that your vet and farrier will appreciate a setup washstand for cleaning their hands while they are working in your barn. Be sure that all people visiting your barn know where they can go to wash their hands--and that you appreciate (or even require) their attention to that detail.
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A video on handwashing seems like such a non-horse subject, but it really is an important part of disease prevention that many people--even veterinarians--overlook.? But when there is a danger of disease transmission or new horses arrive at your barn or you're living at the showgrounds among strange horses, remember this video.
Handwashing doesn't have to be a pain, and you don't have to be a pain in suggesting it as a practice. Just do it, and post signs in your barn directing people to your sink. Keep it stocked with paper towels and liquid soap, and set it up so that you touch as few surfaces as possible. Once it becomes a habit, it won't be a pain anymore.
These two videos are a sample from a video series on biosecurity practices produced by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for the education of the horse community. Be sure to go to the Hagyard channel on YouTube and watch them all, and share them with other horse enthusiasts.