Equine Influenza - Know the Facts!

Mar 11 09:42 2008 Alison Grimston Print This Article

Horse flu is common and often severe, with affected horses needing a 6 week period off work. This article discusses how it occurs as well as both conventional and complementary therapies.

Copyright (c) 2008 The Naturally Healthy Pet.com

Introduction: Equine influenza ('flu') is one of the main respiratory infections affecting horses. It has a worldwide distribution,Guest Posting and can cause a severe illness in some cases. Fortunately, prevention is possible with current vaccinations, and there is always the option of homeopathic nosodes. This is a very current topic, with a recent outbreak in Australia in August to October 2007. This continent had previously been unaffected by equine flu, and the outbreak appears to have spread from imported Japanese stallions.

What is Equine Influenza? This is a severe respiratory viral infection, with a short incubation period of 3-4 days, and a rapid worsening of symptoms. It is particularly likely to spread rapidly in overstocked situations.

The virus is spread by inhalation of water droplets via the nose. From here it causes damage to tissues lining the respiratory tract. It can cause death of large areas of the lining tissue or mucosa.

Symptoms: These include high temperature, clear nasal discharge, dry cough, and swollen submental lymph nodes (under the jaw). In addition, you may notice that your horse has depression & lethargy, a clear eye discharge, a poor appetite, and a reluctance to drink There may even be a degree of swelling of the limbs, with a resultant reluctance to move. Occasionally secondary pneumonia can occur, especially in the very old and the very young; this can lead to death.

Causative Agent: The Equine-1 (H7N7) and equine-2 (H3N8); influenza A is a subtype of the latter. These are more stable subtypes than the human influenza virus which changes every year. The horse flu virus was isolated as recently as 1956.

Occasionally carrier status occurs in equines, when an incomplete immune response to infection has occurred and the virus has not been eliminated. Such horses are shedding virus and infectious despite appearing well.

Current Western Treatments: Affected horses need complete rest for at least 6 weeks. It takes 1 week to recover at best, but 6 weeks for any mucosal damage to be reversed, hence the need for a longer period of rest. During recovery, it is important that any stable used must have good ventilation, with minimal dust levels. Mucolytic agents & antibiotics may be necessary if secondary infection occurs.

Complementary Therapies: Supportive care can help, such as reiki, spiritual healing, crystal healing, acupressure, shiatsu, and aromatics. These can help the horse's immune system and ability to heal itself. The aromatics (animal aromatherapy, whereby the animal chooses remedies on the basis of scent and taste from a selection offered) may have specific effects on resistance to infection and the release of supportive hormones.

Prevention: Influenza vaccines have been available for many years, and initially only provided protection for a few months. Current improved vaccines protect for 10-15 months. Vaccination should be given as a primary course of 2 doses, 3-6 weeks apart, followed by boosters at 6-12 month intervals. Side effects are rare, and may be due to inflammation at the injection site, occasional allergy, or general poor well - being.

Certification of flu vaccination may be needed for horses that travel or compete

Homeopathic nosodes may be helpful in preventing influenza. Nosodes are created from the equine virus by diluting many times in water. The water then holds the memory of the molecule, which may be enough to stimulate an immune response. There tends to be a lower side effect rate with nosodes, but there is limited evidence of their efficacy.

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Alison Grimston
Alison Grimston

Dr Alison Grimston is a holistic doctor and animal healer specializing in connecting and informing animal therapists. Her natural animal therapy website informs the public about animal therapies while connecting animal therapists worldwide. http://www.TheNaturallyHealthyPet.com

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