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SHF Equine Health and Welfare Report

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Equine Piroplasmosis - the ECEHWC has responded by letter and teleconference to a request from CFIA for our input to policy currently under consideration. “An Equine Piroplasmosis Primer” was recently published in “Show Trail”. Only Texas and New Mexico have additional current restrictions vis-a-vis import/export of horses due CEM and Piroplasmosis surveillance.  

Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM). Import restrictions on fresh equine semen remain in place for the 2011 breeding season. An additional annex is required for horses travelling to the USA and returning to Canada to cover risks of introduction of CEM. 

Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA). 215 horses were tested in SK. with no positives. There were nineteen (19) cases diagnosed in Canada (1 QC, 5 AB, 13 BC).  

West Nile Virus (WNV). While there is a much reduced incidence in birds and people in SK., one (1) positive equine case was confirmed in 2010. The mosquito vector is widely present, and given the right conditions transmission can occur. Vaccination is still recommended. A non-adjuvant one-shot WNV vaccine purportedly with less/no side effects is on the market.

Rabies. There was one (1) reported cases of equine rabies in Canada this past year in  MB. Cases in Saskatchewan were tested as suspects, including one in SE SK (which turned out to be WNV positive) Over the 13 year period January 1, 1998 to date there have been 54 positive cases of rabies in horses in Canada, 18 of which have occurred in Saskatchewan. Skunks and bats are the main vectors of rabies on the prairies. The magic of the 4th meridian remains a mystery, as there have been no skunk or equine positives in AB. over this entire reporting period. AAEP Guidelines for vaccination now include rabies as a core vaccine for horses. However, the CFIA Rabies Control Program does not recognize vaccination status of livestock in determining quarantine provisions at this time. A series of four (4) very informative articles on rabies have been co-authored by Dr. Betty Althouse and Dr. Bobby Lundquist, and recently published in the SVMA Newsletters. We are currently working on the prairie chapter of a multi-authored book “Taking the Bite Out of Rabies”

WEE/EEE. We have not had positive cases reported in Saskatchewan for the past two (2) decades. Recall that WEE was a devastating disease in Saskatchewan in the past, but with much reduced incidence with the development of a vaccine in the late 1930’s. Many horse owners now use a combined vaccine annually.

EHV -1. Although there were no known reports of EHV-1 in Saskatchewan over the past year, discussion (HWAC, ECEHWC, CFIA) involving the placing of EHV-1(neurological) in the “Immediately Notifiable” category continue.

Veterinarians are still seeing strangles, respiratory problems including heaves, dental problems, laminitis (founder), loss of condition and altitude disease/manger fever. Climate change, movement patterns, feed selection and practices, technological changes, markets, along with many other factors affecting disease occurrence need be kept in mind. An article “Ionophore Toxicity in Horses” was published in “Show Trail, as well as one on “Tetanus in the Horse”. Management, when not up to par, is still an issue where horses are kept. Ms. Frances Wach, SSPCA has provided an appended report.

Dr. Katharina Lohmann remains hopeful that a research surveillance project to nasal swab horses at sales, shows etc. for the presence of latent respiratory infection can take place. Conducting a survey of Equine Management Practices in Western Canada also remains in the wings. If and when, the SHF can be supportive in getting the message out once these projects are ready for launch. Dr. Lohmann has been delivering her Equine Medicine Elective course, premiered last spring as part of the new curriculum at WCVM. The AVMA Accreditation at WCVM was a success. The final report from the Council on Education is expected this spring. The WCVM has been able to secure funding for an expansion of the Equine Performance Center. The EPC will allow for enhanced evaluation of equine lameness problems and other gait abnormalities, as well as providing much needed space for teaching and research.

Concurrently the Animal Protection Act(s) in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and NL have been under review, all looking at tougher measures for those found guilty of animal abuse or neglect within their jurisdictions. The SHF provided substantial input by invitation regarding the Proposed Amendments to the Animal Protection Act 1999, and the Animal Protection Regulations 2000. A growing trend for provincial laws is to cite recognized national and other regulations referenced to their Acts thereby creating a more harmonized approach.

Several groups with a focus on equine welfare and husbandry in Canada and the USA are working hand-in-hand to provide knowledgeable, factual information to horse owners, governments and the general public respecting the care and oftentimes plight of the horse. A brochure produced by the American Horse Council has recently been adapted for Canadian application. “A Caregiver’s Guide to Rehabilitating Neglected Horses” can be downloaded at the Horse Welfare Alliance Canada website along with other current material. HWAC has also moved forward with a program “Trailering and Handling for Recreational Horse Owners”.

Mr. Bill des Barres, Chair of HWAC, speaking at our convention, will be updating us all on recent significant initiatives undertaken by HWAC and partners.  The SHF is a charter member of HWAC, contributing as we can to very worthwhile efforts to the benefit of all.

The National Certified Livestock Transport (CLT) training initiative is in place. First developed by AFAC and further funded by ALMA, the course has been delivered in Saskatchewan on a few occasions courtesy of FACS to the benefit of transporters here. “Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses - Standards for the Care of Unfit Animals” c/o AFAC – available for distribution in Saskatchewan, also available on the HWAC and SHF websites.

Review of “Recommended Code of Practice – Horses”. This initiative is now in the hands of the NFACC where process is being developed, funding secured and science and industry committees being populated. Dr. Katharina Lohmann has been appointed to serve in developing the new Code of Practice – Horses. The Code needs to be of accepted value throughout Canada, and across all disciplines. Keep your ear to the rail for a while longer.

The Equine Information Document (EID) Many questions, and few answers, with much work to be done, however hopefully we will all be better informed with SHF Convention speaker presentations. This is a big issue, recently hastily driven by an EU dictum, intended to preserve Canada’s processing market. Although handed to Equine Canada in 2003, the Equine I/D file has only casually and peripherally been discussed at the grass roots level until now. Owners are encouraged to keep complete medical and health records to maintain options into the future.

Ports of Entry. Responding to horse industry concerns, the CFIA has evaluated and is in the process of updating several Canadian Land Ports of Entry to facilitate enhanced ability to offload, inspect and reload commercial shipments of livestock, including equine. Renovation work proceeded at the POE of North Portal this past fall.

Communication efforts continue to keep committee members, the SHF, EC Provinces Division, ECEHWC, HWAC and our provincial partners informed with current news/commentary/happenings.

We acknowledge with thanks invited contributions to this report including those of Dr. Betty Althouse CFIA, Dr. Jewel Parry CFIA, Ms. Frances Wach SSPCA, Mr. Bill des Barres HWAC, Dr. Mary Bell ECEHWC and Dr. Katharina Lohmann WCVM. We value the interest and support of the SHF Board of Directors, and SHF Members for the important work of this committee, and on behalf of committee members, Dr. Christine Ewert-Hill, Jillian MacDonald, Dr. Grant Royan, Shirley Brodsky, Jim Graham, Dr. Jim Sawatsky, Sharon Butt and Mae Smith, we thank you and welcome your continued input.

Respectfully submitted, B.W.R. (Byrnne) Rothwell, D.V.M.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:07 )