A new National Equine Health Plan has been introduced in the US, which aims to protect the health and welfare of horses, and assist in disease outbreaks and environmental disasters.
The plan has been introduced by the American Horse Council (AHC), in conjunction with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state animal health officials.
The goals of the National Equine Health Plan (NEHP) are to protect the health and welfare of the US equine population, facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of horses and their products, ensure the availability of regulatory services, and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry.
“The horse industry is unique because horses are transported with more frequency than other livestock,” said AHC President Julie Broadway.
“We have seen firsthand how disease outbreaks cost the industry millions of dollars for the care of sick horses, implementation of biosecurity, and lost revenue in the form of cancelled or restricted commercial equine activities such as horse shows.
“Back in 2013, the industry felt it was time to step up and address the issue of the handling of disease outbreaks and the dissemination of information surrounding the outbreaks. This gave way to the creation of the NEHP that will outline the issues surrounding the prevention, diagnosis and control of diseases and the responsibilities and roles of the federal and state authorities and the industry.”
The NEHP also functions as a roadmap for coordinating horse owners and industry organizations with veterinarians and state and federal animal health officials to prevent, recognize, control and respond to diseases and environmental disasters. The plan facilitates horse industry preparedness, effective rapid communication, and owner education, which make up the foundation for preventing diseases and disease spread. Links to information and resources are included in the NEHP document, including a list of “Roles and Responsibilities” for all stakeholders in the industry.
Equine Disease Communication Center Director Dr Nat White said the EDCC is a key element of the NEHP and provides critical communication of information during disease outbreaks.
“Additionally, equinediseasecc.org provides information about diseases, vaccination, biosecurity, state health regulations, state animal health official contact information and links to USDA-APHIS veterinary services. By integrating the roles of regulatory agencies with industry stakeholders, equine health and welfare are improved.”
The NEHP provides immediate access to resources and communications needed to optimize disease mitigation and prevention. It serves as a guide for regulations and responses needed to mitigate and prevent infectious diseases. The AHC and the AAEP encourage sharing the document to help educate horse owners about how veterinarians and state and federal officials work together to decrease the risk of disease spread.