Dr Bernard Stoffel told trainers at the ETF AGM about the spread of diseases due to climate change. Many diseases are being spread by ticks / mosquitoes and sand flies.
When detection of disease is unclear, many trainers will blame poor performance on the horse simply being sick but aren't examining the possibility that the horse is infected by a parasite due to infection.
Piroplasmosis is one such infection. Transmitted by ticks and manifested by intracelluar parasites Babesia Caballi in North Europe and Thellida Equi in the South of Europe.
Other common diseases include:
Leptospirosis - transmitted by water contamination or from rodents urine. 80% of horses can be positive to this condition but not necessarily infected. Common symptoms are - fever, loss of appetite, swelling in the eyes, light sensitivity and poor exercise tolerance. Treatment via antibiotics.
Erhlichiose (Anaplasmose) - confined to southern Europe. Transported by ticks from dogs to horses. Symptoms - colic and jaundice. Treatment via antibiotics.
Borreliosis (Lyme disease) - once again transmitted by ticks the agent for carrier is Lyme Spirochete. The main symptoms are lameness, behavioural changes, lethargy, lack of interest in surroundings. This is one of the most worrying bacterial infection as it can repeat after the course of antibiotics has finished. Other treatments include iodine and immuno stimulants.
West Nile Virus - the virus is transmitted in Southern Europe by mosquitos. Horses being transported across Europe is the major carrier of this virus.
African Horse Sickness - transmitted by sandflies and is closely related to blue tongue which is becoming more prevalent in Northern Europe. The symptoms are acute respiratory or cardiac related. There is no vaccine.
Leishmaniosis - this disease won't kill the horse but it is more of a skin condition. There is no treatment as it tends to clear up by itself.
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) - carried by by mosquitoes and sandflies. There have been an increasing number of cases of this disease - against the perception that it has been dying out.
Equine Atypical Myopathy - an oral disease prevalent in autumn and spring, due to wet conditions and affects grazing animals.
MINIMISING RISKS OF INFECTION / SPREAD
1) clean your stables
2) treat pets against ticks as they can be a major carrier of parasites
3) clear leaves and litter around stables
4) clean horses feet regularly as hooves can be a carrier
5) eliminate any in unnecessary standing water
6) keep equine pools clean and change water frequently
7) utilise repellent sprays
8) turn off lights at night as these can attract mosquitoes and other carriers
9) keep your horses immune status high - mange stress and recovery time post race
10) keep a quarantine barn for new horses into yard or on return from races as they could easily pick up carrier virus's from other horses at the races