A Concise Guide to Respiratory Disease in Horses Part II featured image.jpg

A Concise Guide to Respiratory Disease in Horses Part II

Is your horse suffering from a respiratory disease? If you don’t already know, be sure to read Part I of this guide, where we discussed the signs that your horse has a respiratory disease. Infectious upper respiratory problems are common in horses, and they can have significant consequences for your horse’s health. That’s why if you suspect your horse is suffering from respiratory disease, you should take action immediately and call your local equine vet ASAP. Here in the Lowcountry, Carter Veterinary Services provides an array of first-class equine services, including treating upper respiratory conditions. If you’re looking for a horse doctor in South Carolina, give us a call today!

Common Types of Respiratory Diseases in Horses

We mentioned in part one of this guide that there are three main causes of upper respiratory diseases in horses:

  • Equine Asthma

  • Equine influenza virus (EIV)

  • Streptococcus equi subspecies equi (S. equi)

  • Equine herpesvirus (EHV)

Let’s take a closer look at what each one of these involves:

Equine Influenza Virus (EIV)

EIV is one of the most common infectious upper respiratory diseases in horses. This virus can be transmitted through the air and spreads quickly due to its short incubation period (1-2 days). It’s important to keep sick horses isolated, as coughing can spread nasal droplets as far as 200 yards. As EIV is highly contagious for other horses, it’s important to act as soon as you notice signs of illness like fever, runny nose, and coughing. As with all viruses, the equine influenza virus experiences antigenic drift (i.e., it changes over time). Recent changes in the virus seem to be making older horses more susceptible than they used to be.

Streptococcus Equi Subspecies Equi (S. equi)

S. Equi, otherwise known as strangles, is another highly contagious disease caused by bacteria that forms an abscess. The most easily-identifiable sign of strangles is a swollen, tender lymph node. When a horse has strangles, they can develop an abscess both internally and externally. To help prevent your horse from getting strangles, vaccination is recommended. Call Carter Veterinary Services to schedule your horse vaccination today.

Equine Herpesvirus

Lastly, there is equine herpesvirus — also known as “Rhinopneumonitis." There are two types of equine herpesvirus that can infect the respiratory tract: EHV-1 and EHV-4. EHV-4 is more common in younger horses, while EHV-1 is more generalized in terms of your horse’s age. Equine herpesvirus is not generally identified right away, as the virus remains dormant for a period of time until stressful events — like training or hauling — activates the virus, leading to shedding, which can be asymptomatic.

A horse with EHV-1 can have a fever and show signs of depression, in addition to suffering from neurological damage. Equine herpesvirus spreads through coughing, direct and indirect contact with nasal secretion, and more. We recommend vaccinating every six months.

Keep Your Horse Happy & Healthy

As respiratory diseases are common in horses, it’s important to keep a close eye out for symptoms and act promptly when you see them. A virus or bacteria can suddenly and rapidly impact your horse’s health, and could quickly spread to other horses around them if swift action is not taken. The key to dealing with infectious upper respiratory disease in horses is to prevent it from taking hold in the first place. This can be achieved through regular vaccination, high-quality living conditions, and by being a caring, observant caretaker for your horse. If you have a sick horse or want to get your horses vaccinated, then reach out to Carter Veterinary Services in Hardeeville and schedule your appointment today.