Health concerns stirred up | TSLN.com

Health concerns stirred up

The world is stirred up over health concerns as the dread phrase “swine flu” seems to echo and resonate all around us. If there’s anything the current scare has done, it’s to remind us how important it is to be prepared – to have a plan. The Equine Disease Quarterly Newsletter for April reiterates that, in an article about Kentucky’s devastating ice storm in late January – a storm that put 760,000 electrical customers without power when the temperature hovered at 20 degrees and everything was glazed in 1/2″ to 1″ of solid ice. Pumping water in most places is dependent on electricity, and 300,000 electrical customers were still without power after a full week, in spite of workers responding from more than 20 surrounding states.

The article closes, “A disaster can happen at any time and can last hours, days or weeks. Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Information on a family disaster plan is available at http://www.redcross.org; and a plan for your horses, courtesy the American Association of Equine Practitioners, can be found at http://www.aaep.org/emergency_prep.htm.

Disease is one thing that can certainly create a disaster, and our horses are vulnerable to a lot of serious ‘bugs.’ I wrote here some months ago of how Blue Tongue had migrated from Africa to shock Northern Europe in 2006, creating a rapidly spreading epizootic in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg… and how the type of vector that carries it, biting midges, also carry African Horse Sickness. At that time I declared my belief that if one of those diseases could get from Africa to everywhere, the other could as well.

I sincerely hoped I was wrong, but an ominous headline looms in this same Equine Disease Quarterly Newsletter – “Potential Threat of African Horse Sickness to the United States.” Information found there says African Horse Sickness Virus (AHSV) and bluetongue virus (BTV) are both members of the genus Orbivirus of the family Reoviridae. Both cause serious, non-contagious but infectious, arthropod-borne diseases in equids and ruminants, respectively.

They say, “AHSV infects all equids, causing asymptomatic infection in zebra and African donkeys, but it is the most lethal infectious disease of horses known, with mortality as high as 95 percent.”

The bluetongue bug managed to overwinter in Europe, and the epizootic grew in 2007 to 45,000 cases. Now, according to our source, “Because of the recent dramatic change in epidemiologic status of BTV and its Culicoides sp. vectors in Europe, both the equine and ruminant industries have become concerned about the potential for entry for these diseases into the United States. The feasible routes for entry of AHSV into the United States include importation of infected animals and introduction of infected vectors.”

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There are strict Federal regulations about importing both wild and domestic equidae from countries that the USDA-APHIS considers to be affected with AHS; one of which is they can only be imported through the New York Animal Import Center. The introduction of vectors directly from Africa is highly unlikely because of various weather factors. Nonetheless, AHS is currently on the list of diseases for which a response plan is soon to be written by USDA-APHIS VS National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management; a plan which will “replace the outdated AHS Red Book previously published by the USDA.

If you desire more information on AHSV and the preparation of this plan, contact Dr. William R. White at Plum Island, New York at (631)323-3256 or Dr. Timothy R. Cordes at Riverdale, Maryland, (301) 734-3279.

With the bad and sad and worrisome horse news that seems to abound these days, it’s always great to share a happy, positive story. I’m remiss in finding space sooner to tell you all about My Rockin Ryon (“Rocky”), a Montana Quarter Horse that won the MD Barns Silver Spur Award presented last month. That coveted award brought Rocky’s owners – Calvin and Suanne Stenger of Worden, Montana – a specially designed Montana Silversmiths belt buckle and a $25,000 MD Barns gift certificate. The awards honor American Quarter Horses who have made a significant impact on the lives of others or who have been cast into the public spotlight through prominent accomplishments to help create a favorable perception of the breed.

Rocky’s claim to fame is helping 10-year-old Bailee Stenger fight epilepsy. Diagnosed with epilepsy at 3, she began having up to 30 siezures a day. After losing her pony on the way to a barrel race, Bailee started riding Rocky. The AQHA press release says Rocky, a horse that’s normally excited and ready to run through the gate, walked into the arena and loped a slow pattern the first time Bailee competed on him. Once while bridling Rocky, Bailee had a seizure, and before her mom could get there, Rocky stood quietly with no bridle or halter as the little girl jerked around between his front legs. Bailee’s family knows there’s a special bond between girl and horse – a team that doesn’t let epilepsy slow them down any more, and have earned many buckles to prove it. We tip’ our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to this pint-sized Montana cowgirl and her amazing equine friend Rocky, as well as to his generous owners the Stengers.

While we’re talking of kids and horses, I want to make you aware of a new Wyoming 4-H Horse Library started by Allicen Hardy, 4-H Horse Leader and Director of the Wind River Performance Horse Club (WRPHC) at Riverton. Seed for the library came from a grant she wrote with Encana Oil and Gas to do clinics with a group of 4-H horse youth and begin the library; and it continues to grow. More than 75 DVD’s and VHS are available for checkout through an online library, and can be accessed by all 4-H youth members, 4-H horse leaders and WRPHC members. There’s an online 4-H Visual Aid Request form, which requires the signature of a 4-H leader, and materials can be checked out for two weeks. Shipping and handling cost $5 per item, and the user is responsible for on time first-class return postage. Fines are $10 daily for materials not returned within the two-week period. A detailed description of each movie can be seen at http://4-h.uwyo.edu.

Some of you no doubt have horse VHS or videos you no longer use – when you do the spring housecleaning this would be a great place to donate them! They’d especially like materials on Dressage, Working Cow Horse, Cutting and Horse Judging, but they probably won’t turn down any educational equine material. Contact Alice Hardy about donating, or any other questions at (307) 851-2617.

Looks like that’s the end of our ol’ lariat rope for this time…

The world is stirred up over health concerns as the dread phrase “swine flu” seems to echo and resonate all around us. If there’s anything the current scare has done, it’s to remind us how important it is to be prepared – to have a plan. The Equine Disease Quarterly Newsletter for April reiterates that, in an article about Kentucky’s devastating ice storm in late January – a storm that put 760,000 electrical customers without power when the temperature hovered at 20 degrees and everything was glazed in 1/2″ to 1″ of solid ice. Pumping water in most places is dependent on electricity, and 300,000 electrical customers were still without power after a full week, in spite of workers responding from more than 20 surrounding states.

The article closes, “A disaster can happen at any time and can last hours, days or weeks. Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Information on a family disaster plan is available at http://www.redcross.org; and a plan for your horses, courtesy the American Association of Equine Practitioners, can be found at http://www.aaep.org/emergency_prep.htm.

Disease is one thing that can certainly create a disaster, and our horses are vulnerable to a lot of serious ‘bugs.’ I wrote here some months ago of how Blue Tongue had migrated from Africa to shock Northern Europe in 2006, creating a rapidly spreading epizootic in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg… and how the type of vector that carries it, biting midges, also carry African Horse Sickness. At that time I declared my belief that if one of those diseases could get from Africa to everywhere, the other could as well.

I sincerely hoped I was wrong, but an ominous headline looms in this same Equine Disease Quarterly Newsletter – “Potential Threat of African Horse Sickness to the United States.” Information found there says African Horse Sickness Virus (AHSV) and bluetongue virus (BTV) are both members of the genus Orbivirus of the family Reoviridae. Both cause serious, non-contagious but infectious, arthropod-borne diseases in equids and ruminants, respectively.

They say, “AHSV infects all equids, causing asymptomatic infection in zebra and African donkeys, but it is the most lethal infectious disease of horses known, with mortality as high as 95 percent.”

The bluetongue bug managed to overwinter in Europe, and the epizootic grew in 2007 to 45,000 cases. Now, according to our source, “Because of the recent dramatic change in epidemiologic status of BTV and its Culicoides sp. vectors in Europe, both the equine and ruminant industries have become concerned about the potential for entry for these diseases into the United States. The feasible routes for entry of AHSV into the United States include importation of infected animals and introduction of infected vectors.”

There are strict Federal regulations about importing both wild and domestic equidae from countries that the USDA-APHIS considers to be affected with AHS; one of which is they can only be imported through the New York Animal Import Center. The introduction of vectors directly from Africa is highly unlikely because of various weather factors. Nonetheless, AHS is currently on the list of diseases for which a response plan is soon to be written by USDA-APHIS VS National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management; a plan which will “replace the outdated AHS Red Book previously published by the USDA.

If you desire more information on AHSV and the preparation of this plan, contact Dr. William R. White at Plum Island, New York at (631)323-3256 or Dr. Timothy R. Cordes at Riverdale, Maryland, (301) 734-3279.

With the bad and sad and worrisome horse news that seems to abound these days, it’s always great to share a happy, positive story. I’m remiss in finding space sooner to tell you all about My Rockin Ryon (“Rocky”), a Montana Quarter Horse that won the MD Barns Silver Spur Award presented last month. That coveted award brought Rocky’s owners – Calvin and Suanne Stenger of Worden, Montana – a specially designed Montana Silversmiths belt buckle and a $25,000 MD Barns gift certificate. The awards honor American Quarter Horses who have made a significant impact on the lives of others or who have been cast into the public spotlight through prominent accomplishments to help create a favorable perception of the breed.

Rocky’s claim to fame is helping 10-year-old Bailee Stenger fight epilepsy. Diagnosed with epilepsy at 3, she began having up to 30 siezures a day. After losing her pony on the way to a barrel race, Bailee started riding Rocky. The AQHA press release says Rocky, a horse that’s normally excited and ready to run through the gate, walked into the arena and loped a slow pattern the first time Bailee competed on him. Once while bridling Rocky, Bailee had a seizure, and before her mom could get there, Rocky stood quietly with no bridle or halter as the little girl jerked around between his front legs. Bailee’s family knows there’s a special bond between girl and horse – a team that doesn’t let epilepsy slow them down any more, and have earned many buckles to prove it. We tip’ our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to this pint-sized Montana cowgirl and her amazing equine friend Rocky, as well as to his generous owners the Stengers.

While we’re talking of kids and horses, I want to make you aware of a new Wyoming 4-H Horse Library started by Allicen Hardy, 4-H Horse Leader and Director of the Wind River Performance Horse Club (WRPHC) at Riverton. Seed for the library came from a grant she wrote with Encana Oil and Gas to do clinics with a group of 4-H horse youth and begin the library; and it continues to grow. More than 75 DVD’s and VHS are available for checkout through an online library, and can be accessed by all 4-H youth members, 4-H horse leaders and WRPHC members. There’s an online 4-H Visual Aid Request form, which requires the signature of a 4-H leader, and materials can be checked out for two weeks. Shipping and handling cost $5 per item, and the user is responsible for on time first-class return postage. Fines are $10 daily for materials not returned within the two-week period. A detailed description of each movie can be seen at http://4-h.uwyo.edu.

Some of you no doubt have horse VHS or videos you no longer use – when you do the spring housecleaning this would be a great place to donate them! They’d especially like materials on Dressage, Working Cow Horse, Cutting and Horse Judging, but they probably won’t turn down any educational equine material. Contact Alice Hardy about donating, or any other questions at (307) 851-2617.

Looks like that’s the end of our ol’ lariat rope for this time…