We have gone to the birds!


I would like to take the opportunity of introducing the Arizona National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) for Part 145 Subpart E – Special Provisions for Hobbyist and Exhibition Poultry, and Game Bird Breeding Flocks and Products. Any person selling hatching … Continue reading

Equine Disease Risk Considerations

Guide to Preventing Equine Contagious Diseases: Plan, Prevent, Protect

If you are looking for more information on how to protect your part of the horse world, some folks over in the UK have put together a really nice booklet that aids in planning and protecting your equine operation. You can purchase the book or you can use the interactive, online version. (Please note the book displayed and functioned fine for me in Chrome and Internet Explorer as well as Safari on an iPad but would not display in Firefox.)

It has sections on common diseases, check lists for evaluating your operation, guidance on dealing with outbreaks, along with several other aspects. It is 20 pages in length. My quick review leads me to think this is a handy tool that could be useful to a lot of folks.

Saudi Arabia and African Horse Sickness

For those of you that might be in the equine importation business (or need more things to worry about when it comes to equine), in 2009 (yes, 2009) Saudi Arabia petitioned for recognition as being free of African Horse Sickness (AHS – one of the things we learn to recognize and hopefully mitigate while training on Plum Island to become Foreign Animal Disease Diagnosticians).

The reason I bring this matter up now is because USDA has now proposed to remove Saudi Arabia from the list of countries affected by AHS. This proposal was published for public comment in the June 12, 2014, issue of the Federal Register.

For those of you with insomnia, I’ve attached the official report USDA APHIS VS Evaluation of AHS – Saudi Arabia.

And here is the published notice: USDA AHS-Saudi Arabia Federal Register

West Nile Virus (WNV)

Lastly – a plug about about WNV. A couple of mosquito pools have already tested positive for West Nile around the state (Maricopa and Yuma counties). So please be vigilant in keeping mosquito numbers down and your horse immunity up (aka vaccinate!)

Enjoy the ride!

Beware of mosquitos (and the West Nile Virus they carry)

So this is my first summer in Arizona and the triple digit heat does take some getting used to.  I come from Minnesota where negative temperatures are the norm, people catch fish through holes in the ice and the mosquito is our state bird. (That’s a MN joke, the state bird is really the Loon. Hmmmm…I’m not sure if that’s any better.)  I must say that even with the hot weather, I haven’t noticed very many bugs.  Low humidity and no bugs?  I can deal with that.

There must be some mosquitos somewhere though, because the Arizona Health Department has trapped some in Yuma and Maricopa counties and found they were carrying the West Nile Virus (WNV). Catching and testing mosquitos is done by the Health Department for several reasons.  They get an idea of where disease-carrying mosquitos are located and can focus chemical pesticide treatments in those areas.  It also gives them an idea of how many people might get sick.  More infected mosquitos means it’s more likely a mosquito will bite a person (or a horse) and transmit the West Nile Virus.

West-Nile-Virus-Life-CycleThis diagram shows how the West Nile Virus circulates between birds and mosquitos.  Humans and horses can get infected with the virus via a mosquito bite, but can’t spread it to other people or animals.  Most people infected with WNV won’t get sick.  One in five will have “flu-like” symptoms.  Rarely, the disease can cause a dangerous inflammation of the brain.

In 2013, 62 Arizonans required medical treatment because of WNV.  Most of these folks showed symptoms of brain inflammation, like headaches, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors or paralysis. This is the most dangerous type of illness caused by WNV and anyone with these symptoms should seek medical care.  Unfortunately, four people died from this illness last year.  The highest number of cases was in Maricopa county. Two horses were diagnosed with WNV last year, one in Apache County and one in Yavapai county.

Now you are probably wondering about how can I protect myself and my horse?  Horses can be protected by vaccination against WNV.  Unfortunately, no vaccine exists for people at this time.

To protect yourself and your family:

  • reduce mosquito breeding grounds by eliminating standing water
  • infected mosquitos bite at night, so avoid outdoor activities at dusk
  • wear long sleeves and long pants after dark for outdoor activities
  • use a mosquito repellent, according to directions, when outdoors

For more information on WNV in people go to the AZDHS web site.

For more information on WNV in horses, go to the USDA web site.



Equine Disease Update

2nd TX VSV Case Report

A quick note to point out that a 2nd herd has been confirmed positive with Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in TX.

This is a group of ranch horses on a large ranch near Brownsville. It’s also 300 miles away from the 1st infected premises and there are no epidemiological links between the 2.


The reason I’m pointing out the lack of connection between the 2 is because this disease is more of a regulatory headache than problem for the animals. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME THOUGH. Cattle especially can be hard hit by VSV. But in most cases the disease pops up sporadically, in conjunction with biting insects. Many of the horses which have been infected seem to care little about it. The world however cares a lot.

Here’s a short history lesson, when we shipped thousands and thousands of doughboys and horses to Europe to fight World War I guess what else we shipped? If you answered, “Vesicular Stomatitis Virus” you would be correct. French veterinarians noted blisters on the tongues and excess salivation in shipments of American and Canadian horses in 1915. And that in a nutshell is why this disease is such a big deal internationally.

2013 USDA Final Reports

USDA APHIS has posted their final reports for various equine diseases such as EIA, WNV, EEE, etc. The data includes maps of cases as well as reports.

As always, enjoy the ride!