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'National Equine Health Plan' published

Valuable resource will help curtail risk of equine disease spread.

The American Horse Council (AHC), in conjunction with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state animal health officials, has announced that the "National Equine Health Plan" (NEHP) is now available at equinediseasecc.org/national-equine-health-plan.

“The horse industry is unique because horses are transported with more frequency than other livestock. We have seen firsthand how disease outbreaks cost the industry millions of dollars for the care of sick horses, implementation of biosecurity and lost revenue in the form of cancelled or restricted commercial equine activities such as horse shows,” AHC president Julie Broadway said.

“Back in 2013, the industry felt it was time to step up and address the issue of the handling of disease outbreaks and the dissemination of information surrounding the outbreaks. This gave way to the creation of the NEHP that will outline the issues surrounding the prevention, diagnosis and control of diseases and the responsibilities and roles of the federal and state authorities and the industry,” Broadway added.

The goals of the NEHP are to protect the health and welfare of the U.S. equine population, facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of horses and their products, ensure the availability of regulatory services and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry.

The NEHP also functions as a road map for coordinating horse owners and industry organizations with veterinarians and state and federal animal health officials to prevent, recognize, control and respond to diseases and environmental disasters. The plan facilitates horse industry preparedness, effective rapid communication and owner education, which make up the foundation for preventing diseases and disease spread. Links to information and resources are included in the NEHP document, including a list of “Roles & Responsibilities” for all stakeholders in the industry.

Equine Disease Communication Center director Dr. Nat White said the center "is a key element of the NEHP and provides critical communication of information during disease outbreaks. Additionally, equinediseasecc.org provides information about diseases, vaccination, biosecurity, state health regulations, state animal health official contact information and links to USDA (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service) veterinary services. By integrating the roles of regulatory agencies with industry stakeholders, equine health and welfare are improved.”

The NEHP provides immediate access to resources and communications needed to optimize disease mitigation and prevention. It serves as a guide for regulations and responses needed to mitigate and prevent infectious diseases. AHC and AAEP encourage sharing this document as it will help educate horse owners about how veterinarians and state and federal officials work together to decrease the risk of disease spread.

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