From sporadic disease to outbreaks, infectious diseases have a tremendous impact on the equine industry and highlight the need for increased biosecurity awareness and education.
“The recent devastating outbreak of EHV-1 in North America has highlighted the importance of infection control and biosecurity, as well as the deficiencies in knowledge and application that are present across the industry,” says Scott Weese, associate professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Guelph.
Equine Guelph is developing “Beat the Bugs”, a program promoting biosecurity throughout all sectors of the horse industry. The program is funded through the Agricultural Biosecurity Program (ABP), part of the Best Practices Suite of programs under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario.
“Increasing knowledge of best biosecurity practices stands to benefit the horse industry by reducing the risk of disease transmission and, in turn, could create a huge positive economic impact and prevent a potential catastrophic outbreak,” says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker.
The “Beat the Bugs” program will be launched in March 2012, which will allow participants the opportunity to learn and put a biosecurity plan in place before their busiest season. The program will include four workshops, conducted by biosecurity specialists, offered free of charge on a first come, first served basis. The workshops are scheduled for London, Sudbury and Kemptville. The fourth workshop will be held at either Woodbine or Mohawk racetrack.
For those unable to attend a workshop, or who are looking to take their biosecurity knowledge to the next level, the two-week Equine Biosecurity e-Session will be available to participants at a fee of $75 (plus HST) per person.
“Beat the Bugs” is being developed by Equine Guelph with the assistance of its 11 industry partners: American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Colorado State University, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, Ontario Veterinary College, Standardbred Canada, Vétoquinol Canada Inc. and Woodbine Entertainment Group.