Disease Control at Racetracks and Horse Events
Table of Contents
The following guidelines may be implemented at equine facilities to prevent diseases from affecting an event and/or in the face of a disease outbreak. Disease control will be initiated at one of three levels; the federal government deals with reportable diseases; the provincial government, specifically the Ontario Racing Commission (or other provincial government agencies), and the track officials, will deal with non-reportable diseases.
The reportable diseases are those diseases that are of significant importance to human or animal health or to the Canadian economy. They are controlled under the Health of Animals Act and regulations. The reportable diseases for horses include, but are not limited to, African horse sickness, anthrax, equine infectious anemia, piroplasmosis, rabies, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and vesicular stomatitis. When an animal owner, veterinarian and/or laboratory diagnose the presence of, or are suspicious of, one of these reportable diseases, they must report their findings/suspicion to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district veterinarian. Control or eradication measures will be applied immediately. Prevention of infected animals from entering Canada as well as control at the farm level are possible. A negative Coggins test, taken within the last 60 days, and a health certificate testifying that the horse was healthy when examined by an accredited veterinarian are required prior to horses entering from outside Canada. Horses entering a race or event are required to have a negative Coggins test on file with Standardbred Canada (standardbreds), the Canadian Jockey Club (thoroughbreds), or event organizer (for other disciplines), prior to entering a racetrack or event. The test must be current as specified by the breed association or event organizers. For standardbred racehorses, the test must be current within the last two years. It must be current within the last year for thoroughbred racehorses and most other disciplines.
When a human is bitten by an animal, both the CFIA and the local public health unit must be notified and they will take charge of the incident.
The non-reportable diseases include those diseases that are already endemic (present commonly in the horse population) in Canada, and include, but are not limited to, equine influenza, equine herpes and strangles. Currently, there is no provincial legislation that controls the movement of horses coming into, or within, Canada or Ontario when horses are infected with a non-reportable disease. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), under the Racing Commission Act 2000, however, can stipulate certain requirements for horses entering the grounds of racetracks. Racetrack owners, under private land ownership, can create rules that are more restrictive than provincial or federal authorities.
The following suggestions can be implemented either separately or in combination. The authority to make these suggestions mandatory will reside mainly with event organizers or racetrack owners in cooperation with the ORC.
It is much easier to prevent an infected horse from entering into a track or event than it is to treat the problem afterwards. Early detection of a disease and initiation of biosecurity measures will usually prevent its rapid spread throughout a group of horses.
For more information:
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