Clearly, not all vets are in agreement on how to react to the situation which has arisen in this country following the extremely contagious disease which horses have come down with and has been called “the contagious cough”.
Eiðfaxi contacted Björn Steinbjörnsson, specialty vet at the Food Institute, who confirms that this disease is very contagious and is thought to be caused by the so-called REO virus. “The problem is that the incubation period, from the time that the horse becomes infected and until he becomes ill, is a very uncertain factor. It can range from a few hours and up to two weeks. This means, that when a horse becomes infected, he may seem healthy during the incubation period. When a horse becomes infected, two weeks can pass until he is having any symptoms. During this incubation period the horse does not have any symptoms but is infecting other horses, meaning that he is infecting other horses although he does not have any symptoms himself.If many horses in a stable are infected, the rate of the infection transmitted between the horses can become very great.
"The stable is a sort of a virus factory and the infection agent can be transmitted through the ventilation system into the surrounding houses. The reason that this disease is spreading around so quickly, is that people are taking their horses from one stable to the other, to shows and tournaments, believing that they have a healthy horse.”
Outlook is bad
“The situation is already very bad but will become even worse if we do not respond to and do something in order to restrain the spreading of the disease right now. One way would be to announce that all shows and tournaments would be discontinued throughout the month of May. Also, people have to make sure that they cut down on visiting between stables. There is reason to warn people not to take their horses to riding arenas, the infection might lurk there."
"The best advice that I can give to horse people, especially those who keep breeding horses or other horses that for example will be taken to Landsmót, is to rest the horses for three weeks. Also, I would recommend that vets start giving horses vaccine containing ingredients to strengthen their immune systems, meaning that they would be given the same vaccine that the horses we send to the WC given.”
Björn is very straight forward when he talks about these matters and it is clear that he wants us to act now and take the matter seriously as this is an unwelcome guest which is threatening all our tournaments and shows at this time, not to speak of our daily horsemanship. We will be monitoring the proceedings in this matter, because surely we want, above all other things, that our horses regain their health and stay healthy.