Horses and Foot and Mouth disease - advice for horse owners

August 10, 2007

Fact sheet from the British Horse Society

Horses cannot contract Foot and Mouth Disease. However, they can play a part in spreading the disease between sites. It is therefore essential that horse owners, particularly within affected areas, employ adequate biosecurity measures to minimise the likelihood of horses being involved in disease transmission.

The Foot and Mouth virus can be transmitted between susceptible animals (i.e. cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas and deer) in various ways including:

Consequently, horse owners should adhere to the following biosecurity measures.

General Management

Riding Vehicles When disinfecting, it is essential to ensure that a disinfectant approved by Defra is used. It should be diluted according to the manufacturer's instructions.

If the disinfectant is to be used on horses' hooves, the manufacturer of the selected product should be contacted to ensure that it is safe to do this, and to determine the correct dilution factor. Virkon S, when diluted correctly, is safe for use on a horse's body.

It should be noted that, at present, all of the above biosecurity measures are voluntary. However, it is particularly important that they are followed in areas near to outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease.