Equine Influenza Case Handled by UC Davis Large Animal Clinic Protocol

Postive-testing horses quickly isolated as daily testing continues
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The University of California at Davis has isolated several horses who have tested positive for Equine Influenza at the School of Veterinary Medicine's Large Animal Clinic.

According to information posted on the University's website, all the affected horses have been moved to an isolation unit. Some operations at the hospital have been affected by the situation.

The University reported that a horse admitted for evaluation on July 27 later developed a fever and cough. When it was tested for pathogens on August 1, Equine Influenza was identified. The university followed protocol by moving the horse immediately to isolation and testing every horse in the hospital on a daily basis.

The report states that several horses that had been in close proximity to the sick horse also tested positive for Equine Influenza, and were moved to isolation. The university allowed horses that were not showing symptoms but tested positive to be released to the care of their owners, if they were equipped to keep the horse isolated from other horses at home.

The situation led the administrators to limit appointments to emergencies only and continue with the testing of horses in the hospital to see if others also test positive as time passes. Outpatient appointments are being handled in a separate area, and the hospital advises anyone bringing a horse to the hospital to be sure the horse is up to date on its Equine Influenza vaccination.

Commenting on the situation, the University said, "The LAC was fortunate to be in the unique position of being able to detect, test for, and confirm the equine flu virus quickly because of its rigorous routine infectious disease control (IDC) program. 

"The hospital’s close proximity to the on-campus Real-time PCR Research and Diagnostics Core Facility laboratory and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System allowed the LAC to test a large number of horses and have results back within just a few hours. Having our designated, highly experienced IDC officer, Dr. Gary Magdesian (also a board-certified critical care specialist), was paramount in quickly discovering and addressing this situation."

The hospital believes that its screening protocol, biosecurity procedures and rapid test results turnaround averted a more serious situation.

As a general advisory, the vet school's message is: "As this is equine flu season (and the index horse had a history of possible exposure at an equestrian event), it is a great time for all horse owners to remember that horses should be boosted for flu approximately every four to six months, or as recommended by their veterinarian based on the amount they travel and their exposure risk."

Symptoms of Equine Influenza include fever, cough, nasal discharge, and occasional leg swelling, the university said. The time from infection to clinical signs ranges from as short as one day to several days.

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