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Intection Prevention Protocol

Creating an effective Infection Prevention Protocol to minimize the risks of zoonotic diseases involves several key steps:

1. *Education and Training*: Education is crucial. All personnel should be trained about zoonotic diseases, their transmission, symptoms, and prevention methods. This includes understanding the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and when to use it.

Good biosecurity should always be practised, not just during a disease outbreak, as it protects all horses as well as your own. Remember that ill horses may not immediately show symptoms or signs of disease but might already be infectious.

2. **Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)**: Proper use of PPE such as gloves, masks, and protective clothing is essential. This equipment should be used when handling animals, their waste, or any potentially contaminated materials.

3. *Hygiene Practices*: Regular hand washing and sanitizing are vital. This should be done before and after handling animals, and after removing PPE. Facilities should have easily accessible hand-washing stations.

4. *Animal Handling Procedures*: Safe and humane handling of animals can reduce stress and the risk of bites or scratches, which are potential sources of zoonotic diseases. Training in proper animal handling is important.

5. *Regular Health Checks for Animals*: Monitoring temperatures, general wellness and regular veterinary checks (including worming and vaccinations) can all help in early detection and management of diseases in animals that could potentially be transmitted to humans.

6. *Environmental Sanitation*: Regular cleaning and disinfection of animal housing and handling areas are crucial. This includes proper waste management and disposal.

7. *Disease Surveillance and Reporting*: A system for monitoring and reporting any signs of illness in animals or staff should be in place. Early detection is key in preventing outbreaks.

8. *Isolation Protocols*: Facilities should have protocols for isolating sick animals from healthy ones to prevent the spread of disease.

Isolating all new arrivals to your yard is a vital disease prevention measure. Although the new horse may appear healthy, they could be harbouring disease and not yet showing any clinical signs. To protect all horses on your yard, new arrivals should have no direct or indirect contact with the resident horses.

Quarantine new arrivals for a minimum of 21 days, ensuring they have limited shared air space and are downwind of the main stabling area. Ideally new horses should be kept on a separate area of the yard.

Ideally prior to arrival (or once at the yard), tests are available to help detect a horse silently carrying strangles. As a minimum, a faecal worm egg count to check the horse’s worm burden will help assess if the horse requires treatment before being turned out to pasture.

Use enrichment to provide mental stimulation and keep the horse occupied. This can include visual enrichment such as placing other horses in their sightline, or feed enrichment like hay balls, which encourages foraging and extends time spent eating. This short-term situation for your horse is better than a whole yard going down with disease.

9. *Vaccination and Preventive Treatments*: Where applicable, animals should be vaccinated against common zoonotic diseases. Preventive treatments, like parasite control, are also important. As a minimum, equine influenza and tetanus are recommended. Vaccination against Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) can help prevent both respiratory disease and abortion caused by EHV-1 and/or EHV-4 and is especially recommended for horses under the age of five as they may be particularly susceptible to respiratory disease caused by EHV-1. A strangles vaccine is also available.

Worming: Have a testing-led deworming programme in place and seek support from your vet to help develop a deworming plan that best suits your horse and your yard. All new arrivals should be tested.

Preventing direct contact
Prevent nose to nose contact while off the yard, and don’t share water sources.
Ensure all boundary fences are secure especially where the neighbouring premises keep horses. To prevent nose to nose contact over neighbouring fences, use well-spaced double fencing.
If dealing with horses other than your own, wash hands before and afterwards.
Non-resident horses visiting a yard must be kept away from resident horses e.g. external visitors hiring an arena. 

Ensuring good hygiene
Have separate grooming equipment for each horse, and clean regularly
Clean feed bowls and water buckets daily
Disinfect boots and change outer clothing after visiting other yards
Regularly clean tack, rugs and vehicles used to transport horses

10. *Regular Review and Updating of Protocols*: The protocol should be reviewed regularly and updated based on the latest research and guidelines.

11. *Communication and Collaboration*: There should be clear communication channels among staff, and with external entities like public health departments, to ensure coordinated efforts in managing zoonotic risks.

Ensure all yard regulars and visitors are informed of your biosecurity procedures and explain the importance of following your yard protocols. Routinely monitor that all biosecurity procedures are being followed. Reassess any biosecurity protocols yearly or following a disease outbreak to highlight any new areas of risk.

12. *Emergency Response Plan*: There should be a plan in place for handling potential outbreaks or emergency situations related to zoonotic diseases.

Implementing these measures in a comprehensive and consistent manner is key to minimising the risk of zoonotic disease transmission in environments where humans and animals interact.

Yard Visitors
You can help limit the risk posed by yard visitors such as farriers, vets, equine dental technicians, physiotherapists and coaches by:

Having access to only one entrance and exit into your yard.
Where possible, keeping parking away from horses.
Asking all visitors to wear clean clothes and shoes, and where possible using foot baths to disinfect boots on entry and exit to the yard.
Recording the dates and contact details for all yard visitors in case of a contagious disease outbreak.



VersionInitialsDescriptionVersion Date
1JGOriginal DraftDecember 2023