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Equine Today: The Importance of Having a Biosecurity Program at Your Practice

September 23, 2021
Blog Post

Equine Today: The Importance of Having a Biosecurity Program at Your Practice

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Published on
September 23, 2021

veterinarian equine

Fluxergy is launching its environmental salmonella assay where equine practices and facilities can add in-house PCR testing to their biosecurity program. This avoids central lab processing and allows clinicians to clear stalls after simple overnight enrichment. Contact Sales

What is Biosecurity?
Biosecurity describes all the human actions that go into preventing disease in horses and people. There are two types of biosecurity: structural biosecurity and operational biosecurity.

Structural Biosecurity
The physical construction and maintenance of structures that separate individual animals or groups of animals (i.e., coops, pens, stalls, etc.).

Operational Biosecurity
Practices, procedures, and polices designed to minimize or prevent the spread of disease in the facility (I.e., disinfecting stalls between patients, frequent diagnostic testing, using disposable gloves, etc.).

Threats to Biosecurity
Pathogen transmission via contact is the single largest threat to biosecurity. Biosecurity measures tend to focus on fecal-oral for gastrointestinal pathogens, aerosol for respiratory pathogens, and the contamination and infection of surgical wounds. Certain agents are of higher regulatory concern, as they are transmissible to humans (e.g., Salmonella, Cryptosporidium parvum, equine influenza virus, canine parvovirus, organisms associated with neonatal scours, feline immunodeficiency virus, Streptococcus equi, Yersinia pestis, and ectoparasites).

Transient Shedding
Within an equine population, a small number of individuals will transiently shed pathogenic material. Shedding is defined as the dissemination of a virus/vector through secretions and/or excreta of a patient, which often occurs periodically in an unpredictable on-off cycle. These individuals can cause outbreaks if they go undetected and quarantine measures aren’t put in place, so regular testing is critical, as it will allow us to identify shedding individuals.

Biosecurity Programs
All facilities should have a biosecurity program in place, as it helps to reduce the spread of disease between both animals and humans. One of the best ways to near-guarantee biosecurity is to instate a surveillance system in which samples from both the patients and the environment are routinely taken and tested for bacterial isolation and identification. This type of program is recommended for large animal and equine patients, as they are considered at high risk for shedding pathogenic bacteria.

Cost Analysis
Performing routine tests for pathogens (both on individual patients and on environmental surfaces) can be expensive at $75 per test on average, but when compared to the extensive costs that come with cleaning up after an outbreak, testing is extremely cost effective. The cost of each test can also be lowered by pooling samples and following other cost reduction strategies. Using Fluxergy’s diagnostic platform, up to ten individual samples can be pooled for screening. By pooling samples, the cost of testing drops from $35 per horse to just $3.50 per horse. This same method can be applied to environment sampling and testing for further security.

Dr. Nicola Pusterla DVM, ACVIM, DAC. explains equine biosecurity more in depth here at an AAEP showcase from the 2020 virtual meeting >>

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