Nationwide equine biosecurity programme launches in Canada

Streptococcus zooepidemicus
Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

A nationwide Biosurveillance Pilot Programme has been launched in Canada to track the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory pathogens and support equine clinics.

Launched by Equine Guelph’s education partner, Merck Animal Health, the programme fills an unmet need in Canada; although there are some initiatives at provincial levels, there is no nationwide equine biosurveillance program in the country.

In the event of an outbreak of common equine respiratory diseases, the program is designed to support equine clinics. It will also enable the collection of information at the national level on the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory pathogens. This information can then be communicated to the horse industry to promote a better knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving nature and dynamics of those pathogens.

In the initial phase, Merck’s Equine Biosurveillance Program will be offered to a limited number of equine clinics. Future plans include rolling it out to a significant number of practitioners. All costs of the programme are covered by Merck Animal Health.

Pathogens tested through the programme include Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for Equine Herpesvirus types 1 & 4, Equine Influenza Virus, Equine Rhinitis A and B Viruses, and Streptococcus equi subsp. equi.

Participating clinics are provided with a diagnostic kit containing all necessary material to collect and submit samples to the Diagnostic Service of the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire in St-Hyacinthe, University of Montreal.

Dr Serge Denis DVM, Equine Consultant for Merck Animal Health, said the initiative would benefit not only the participating clinics but the whole equine industry.

“By sharing the information collected through the programme, we hope to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory diseases by the various stakeholders be it veterinarians, horse owners, barn managers or trainers,’’ Denis said.

Equine Guelph supports this national program as it aims to benefit overall welfare of horses in Canada.

“The possibilities for developing best vaccination strategies through information gathered in this biosurveillance program are quite exciting,” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph.

“We encourage all horse owners to learn more about the importance of vaccinating by visiting our vaccination resource.”


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