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Pre-Outbreak Considerations

The implementation of a management program before an outbreak will maximize the effectiveness of the response plan should infectious disease occur. An effective program incorporates risk management, resource management, and horse management and is unique to each equine event.

Risk Management

Risk aversion: The extent to which one will take action to avoid a negative outcome.

In the context of equine infectious disease, risk aversion may be summarized as:

How badly do you want to keep disease out, and what are you willing to do about it?

Risk aversion is likely disease-specific and should be clearly defined before introduction of horses into a facility. When making this determination, factors to be considered include:


Mobility—potential for exposure/infection prior to arrival
Susceptibility to pathogen


Type of housing
Population density
Isolation capabilities


Presence or absence of centralized regulatory authority—ability to establish and enforce requirements/restrictions/perimeters, etc.


Awareness of on-going disease outbreaks elsewhere and potential for spread
Define intent—to prevent introduction of specific pathogen or prevent occurrence of clinical disease
Endemic vs. epidemic disease
Determine actionable disease threshold

Resource Management


Establish 'chain of command'

Verify contact information for:

  • State Department of Agriculture Veterinarian
  • USDA Area-Veterinarian-In-Charge
  • Area practicing veterinarians

Assess personnel resources and skill level:

  • Veterinarians
  • Veterinary technicians
  • Laypersons

Assess communications needs and designate specific individuals for communications tasks


Identify potential isolation facilities on grounds/off grounds

Facility prep (if turnover between events is < 7days)

  • Disinfection—Biosecurity Guidelines

Horse Management


Criteria for suspected infectious disease reporting

Reporting system

Notify veterinarians and horsemen of responsibility to report

Health requirements for access to grounds and make necessary notifications:

  • Health Certificate +/- disease specific disclaimer
  • Coggins Test
  • Vaccinations (requirements vs. recommendations)

Horse tracking system:

  • Origin and date/time of arrival
  • Location of horse while present at event
  • Contact info for individual responsible for horse (s)
  • Contact info for attending veterinarian
  • Destination and date/time of departure
  • Mode of transport—private van/trailer, commercial carrier or air