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Covid-19 Update on Equine Veterinary Services

Recent regulations from the provincial government and advice from the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners have helped provide guidance with respect to the range of equine veterinary service we can provide at the current time.

Please review the list below for more information. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Our veterinarians may begin wearing face masks on-farm to protect themselves from the spread of the virus. We encourage any concerned owners and handlers to wear them as well. We request that if you have a fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, or if you have been around someone who is ill, that you either arrange for someone else to assist the veterinarian, or reschedule your appointment until after you are well. We would kindly ask that you minimize human traffic in the barn when the vet is on-site.

Vaccinations for foals and broodmares:

· These remain essential, to support foal immunity and to prevent abortion. Foals begin receiving vaccines at 4 months of age for Tetanus, Rabies, West Nile Virus, and Encephalitis (EEE/WEE). Broodmares should continue to receive vaccination to Equine Herpes Virus 1/4 (abortion) at 5, 7 and 9 months of gestation. They should also receive a booster shot for Tetanus/Rabies/West Nile/EEE/WEE 4-6 weeks before foaling. Please call to arrange these appointments.

Vaccinations for adults:

· We have decided to begin booking routine vaccination appointments, starting May 1st, for those horses that get vaccinated for West Nile Virus, Encephalitis (EEE/WEE), and Potomac Horse Fever. It is our hope that provincial regulations will still allow us to administer these vaccines in preparation for mosquito and insect season. If social distancing regulations continue become more strict, we may have to cancel these appointments.

Core Vaccinations:

Rabies:

· Decisions will depend on the level of risk, including previous vaccination status and geographical risk to Rabies exposure. It is likely fine to delay Rabies vaccination in previously vaccinated adult horses for a couple of weeks past when they are due. If your horse(s) gets vaccinated for West Nile Virus, or EEE/WEE, they can receive a combination vaccine, which includes Rabies, starting in May.

West Nile Virus and Equine Encephalitis Vaccine:

· Horses should be fully vaccinated by the end of May, in order for them to be protected two months before peak mosquito season in August. We hope to begin vaccinating for these diseases starting in early May, at the latest. Risk of exposure to infected mosquitoes increases as we near June. For the last few years, the first cases of EEE are generally reported to OMAFRA at the end of July/August. The first cases of West Nile Virus appear later in August and early September.


Tetanus

· Horses in this age group that have completed the 3 dose booster series early in life and receive annual Tetanus vaccinations are likely okay to postpone for a few more weeks. However Tetanus is a serious, usually fatal, disease caused by toxin-producing bacteria that are present in soil and droppings. All adult horses should be vaccinated annually and possibly more if a new injury arises. If your horse(s) gets vaccinated for West Nile Virus, or EEE/WEE, they can receive a combination vaccine, which includes Tetanus and Rabies, starting in May.

Risk-Based Vaccinations:

Influenza, Equine Herpes Virus 1/4, Strangles

· The clinic is postponing these vaccinations for now, unless absolutely necessary.

· These diseases are influenced by horse movement and comingling. Since very little horse movement is occurring, these vaccines can be postponed for now.


Potomac Horse Fever

· Horses should be fully vaccinated before the end of May.

· The first PHF cases in Ontario usually occur at the end of June, when risk of exposure to Neorickettsia risticii is highest.

Breeding:

· Breeding remains an essential service. Broodmares are considered part of the agricultural products (equine) supply chain. Delaying breeding could create some critical issues to the sustainability of the equine industry.

Castrations:

· Consider postponing for the next few weeks and reassess. If the colt/stallion becomes a human safety risk, then consider proceeding with the surgery. As fly season approaches, so does the risk of post-castration infection. Therefore, we would ideally like to start offering castration service as soon as possible and it is deemed appropriate to do so.

Dentistry:

· Postpone visits for now, unless there are immediate health concerns.

EIA Testing for Transport:

· Horses are still permitted to cross the border. We can perform this testing for you using public health precautions.


Eye Conditions:

· Eyes can deteriorate very quickly to become an emergency. Please call us to discuss the necessity of a visit.

Foal Examinations & Health Concerns:

· Examining foals for their health, and IgG status (colostrum immunity) are considered urgent. We can continue to administer newborn foal shots of Vit E/Se and Tetanus antitoxin. We can continue to blood test new foals before 18 hours of age for adequate colostrum immunity (Foal SNAP IgG test). The ideal time to test is about 8 hours after the foal started nursing, so that we can potentially still intervene with oral colostrum to increase IgG levels if needed.

Lameness:

· Cases of acute and chronic lameness can continue to be visited if necessary.

· Joint injections in horses remaining active (ie. driving horses) can continue to be performed to prevent deterioration of joint health.

· Horses with poor performance that are non-essential to the day-to-day life of the owner are not considered urgent and work-ups should be postponed for now.

Medical Conditions:

· We can discuss any new, or chronic, medical cases over the phone to determine if urgent care is required.

Parasite Control and Fecal testing:

· We will continue to be able to offer deworming medication for pick-up and delivery. We also have an updated deworming protocol for 2020, which we will be disseminating to our equine clients. By following this protocol, it will reduce the worm burden of your equine herd and prevent drug resistance.

Foals:

o If your farm has an ongoing issue with parasite resistance, this fecal analysis is still considered urgent. Please contact us to arrange for safe delivery of samples to the clinic.

Adults:

o Fecal sampling for adult horses will be postponed for now as this increases the exposure risk to our staff if more clients are bringing samples to the office. This testing can be done later in the summer, starting in July, which is the best time of year to assess resistance.

Wellness exams:

· Postpone visits for now - call if there are any concerns or changes in your horse’s condition.

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