Contagious Disease Consequences: Canada Border Closed to Horses That Have Been in New Mexico

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Do you read the disease alerts on The Jurga Report and shrug your shoulders? Maybe you're 1000 miles from the latest outbreak. Maybe vesicular stomatitis and pigeon fever are diseases that are only found in dry, hot climates like the Southwest--and you live far from there, too.

But you can't isolate yourself from the horse health situation in the United States. Not so long ago, we didn't even think about disease, unless it was something carried by a mosquito that might sting one of us, too.

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But the wide assortment of diseases percolating in isolated cases and outbreaks in the United States can impact all of us. When you work all summer to collect points to make it to the regionals or nationals and then find out you can't go because of an outbreak. When you want to ship your mare to be bred to a stallion, but a disease outbreak means that your horse won't be allowed back into your state. When you buy a horse halfway across the country, and have to pay board for a month until a transport ban on horses from that state is lifted.

And if it's not your horse in one of those situations, you might be waiting for a stall to open up at a barn, or for a trainer to move to your state. Maybe you can't leave for a trail ride because you need a health certificate from your veterinarian. You didn't need one last year, but you might this year.

Diseases affect all of us. Are you planning to sell a horse into Canada, or take one there to show or race this summer?

Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that it is implementing new import measures to protect Canadian livestock from an outbreak of vesicular stomatitis reported in New Mexico.

Effective immediately, horses originating from the state of New Mexico will not be permitted to enter Canada. According to the government's web site, Canadian horses returning from New Mexico will be allowed entry into Canada if additional import requirements are met.

In addition, all horses entering Canada from the United States must be accompanied by official US documents certifying that they have not been in New Mexico within the previous 21 days.

Details on these import measures can be found in the Canadian government's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that can affect horses, ruminants (such as cattle, sheep and members of the deer and llama families) and swine. It can also cause influenza-like symptoms in people who come into contact with infected animals. Protective clothing should be worn when handling suspect animals to help prevent exposure to the virus.

Canada is currently free of vesicular stomatitis. It was last diagnosed in Canada in 1949. An outbreak of vesicular stomatitis in Canada could result in a loss of markets for live animals, meat and animal genetics.

New Mexico is a state filled with horse activities. There are several racetracks, lots of breeding farms, and the state has a diversified base of breeds and disciplines that are hosting shows and competitions. Regulations limiting the travel of horses from any state have a domino effect in the horse industry across the nation.

Keep reading the disease reports.

Long shadow of a cowgirl photo by MyEyeSees on