The Equine Disease Communication Center online database, which tracks reports of infectious equine diseases, is celebrating five years of informing horse owners and health professionals.
The website for the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC), equinediseasecc.org, includes a list of reports of disease outbreaks, as well as information on what diseases to report and what horse caretakers should do if they suspect an outbreak has occurred.
For the first week of this month, the website’s list of disease alerts included cases of EHV-1, West Nile Virus, Equine Infectious Anemia and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The reports include the city and state where the case was reported, as well as information about the affected horse’s age, breed and other details of the case.
The effort was conceived after the equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak in 2011, which had a significant impact on the horse industry and involved more than 240 equine facilities in 19 states and two Canadian providences. Officials say that outbreak showed there was a need for a universal communication center to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Tracking Equine Disease
Rapid spread of infectious disease can do irreparable harm to horse health and cripple the horse industry. Officials say that, as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for consistent reliable medical information for people, the Equine Disease Communication Center serves as the source for providing the current facts about infectious disease in horses.
During the last five years, the EDCC has sent out more than 1,800 alerts for about 4,460 cases or outbreaks to more 8,400 email subscribers and 13,970 Facebook followers. The website offers horse owners pertinent disease fact sheets and biosecurity information, reviewed by veterinarians on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Infectious Disease Committee.
Officials say the benefits of the EDCC communication system are evident from recent outbreaks of equine herpesvirus at racetracks where large numbers of horses co-mingle and frequently move to and from the tracks, farms and training centers. The prompt EDCC reports have allowed the affected track and local equine community to communicate the steps taken to stop the disease from spreading.
Dr. Kathleen Anderson, of Equine Veterinary Care at the Fair Hill training Center, uses the EDCC to keep informed about current disease outbreaks across the country.
“Having timely and reliable information allows unaffected racetracks and other horse facilities to assess risk before moving horses,” Anderson said in a statement issued by the EDCC. “Knowing that a track or farm has successfully contained the disease by quarantine helps surrounding horse activity to continue uninterrupted.”
Up until five years ago, the equine community had to rely on multiple sources to learn about infectious diseases in their area. That sometimes-caused confusion and misinformation. Because horses are transported more than any other animal, up-to- date information is necessary to know where there is a disease risk.
“I am happy to celebrate five years of growth for the EDCC service and look forward to increasing of our efforts to educate all stakeholders about infectious disease” EDCC Director Dr. Nathaniel White said in a statement.
How to Help
Officials say the EDCC is dependent on funding from horse owners, equine organizations and companies that serve the industry. Donations are needed annually to support the EDCC staff and activity.
To donate, visit the EDCC website support page https://www.equinediseasecc.org/support-us or send donations to The Foundation for the Horse, c/o Equine Disease Communication Center, 4033 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511. The EDCC fund is maintained in The Foundation for the Horse and all donations are tax deductible.