equine biosurveillance program started in canada
• Photo by Molly Montag.

Canada Launches Equine Biosurveillance Program

Officials in Canada recently unveiled a nationwide equine biosurveillance program in that country. The initiative, Equine Biosurveillance Pilot Program, was created by Merck Animal Health.

Although there are some initiatives at provincial levels, there was previously no nationwide equine biosurveillance program in Canada until this new program was launched.

In event of an outbreak of common equine respiratory diseases, this program is designed to support equine clinics with the diagnosis. It will also enable collection of information at the national level on the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory pathogens. This information can then be communicated to the horse industry to promote a better knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving nature and dynamics of those pathogens.

‘’At Merck Animal Health, we are both very excited and proud about this new and unique initiative which will not only benefit participating clinics but the whole equine industry,” says Dr. Serge Denis DVM, Equine Consultant for Merck Animal Health said in a statement. “By sharing the information collected through the program, we hope to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory diseases by the various stakeholders be it veterinarians, horse owners, barn managers or trainers.’’

In the initial phase, the new equine biosurveillance program will be offered to a limited number of Canadian equine clinics. Future plans include rolling it out to a significant number of practitioners.

Pathogens tested through the program: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is available for: Equine Herpesvirus types 1 & 4, Equine Influenza Virus, Equine Rhinitis A and B Viruses, and Streptococcus equi subsp. equi.

Participating clinics are provided with a diagnostic kit containing all necessary material to collect and submit samples to the Diagnostic Service of the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire in St-Hyacinthe, University of Montreal.

There is no cost for participating clinics. All costs of the program are covered by Merck Animal Health. Veterinarians interested in this initiative can contact their local Merck representative.

‘’This innovative program is a powerful addition to our unique value offering and reflects Merck Animal Health’s commitment to support the Canadian equine industry through science-based products and services,’’ said Douglas Wong, Product Manager, Farm Animal Business Unit with Merck Animal Health.

The program has the support of educators and horse specialists at Equine Guelph, a partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

“The possibilities for developing best vaccination strategies through information gathered in this biosurveillance program are quite exciting,” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. “We encourage all horse owners to learn more about the importance of vaccinating by visiting our vaccination resource at EquineGuelph.ca/Tools/equiplanner.php.

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