With a recent outbreak of sick horses in nearby states, here are some tips for preventing and identifying a few equine illnesses

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K-State clinical professor of equine medicine and surgery Laurie Beard was on Monday’s In Focus to discuss a few different illnesses that can affect horses.

One illness she discussed recently made its way through several states.

“It’s a disease called vesicular stomatitis, or VS, you might see it abbreviated,” Beard said. “It causes ulcers in horses’ mouths and on coronary bands. It started this summer down southwest (and) moved its way up to Colorado. About three weeks ago, we had three horses affected in a county right next to Colorado.”

Beard says that while she isn’t too worried about the illness, it can still help to take precautions around animals that may have it.

“I don’t believe it’s of a huge concern but certainly, if you’re looking at horse that’s drooling, probably wearing gloves would be an ideal thing to do or at least washing your hands if you are dealing with animals that are infected by this,” Beard said.

Those transporting their animals across state or even country lines are encouraged to contact the authorities of a territory being traveled to to see if bringing one’s animals is okay.

Beard also discussed rabies, which can be a particularly worrisome disease this time of year with wild animals often taking shelter from the cold in barns and possibly biting livestock.

“It’s always by wild animals, most commonly a possum (or a) skunk,” Beard said. “It’s a bite, but I’ve had six horses with rabies since I’ve been here. There’s been no history of a bite. The incubation period is very long. In other words, a wild animal bites the horse, it might take weeks (or) months to result in neurological signs, so that history of a bite usually is missed.”

Rabies is a fatal disease, so it is typically too late by the time an animal is diagnosed with rabies. Beard says that, unfortunately, rabies can present varying symptoms, from trouble standing to abdominal pain.

Two other diseases Beard discussed were a strain of influenza that affects horses and West Nile Virus.

In horses, the flu can cause a high fever and coughing while the West Nile Virus can cause varying symptoms such as a high fever, muscle twitching, difficulty walking and recumbency.

Either way, Beard encourages equine owners to vaccinate their animals every six months and to also vaccinate ahead of mosquito season in order to prevent mosquito-born illnesses.

To listen to the full In Focus segments, visit 1350kman.com.

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