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Equine Influenza
– Be Proactive, Not Reactive!
Nicole Kenny, B.Sc, Assoc. Chem equidae. It is not historically known home to my family’s beef farm. the requirement by
Director of Professional & Technical to affect humans. It is so contagious Admittedly I would wash my hands many disinfectant
Services that there is a near 100% infection before I ate (who wouldn’t after products to clean
Virox Technologies Inc. rate in un-vaccinated horses and like mucking stalls all day!), but the only the surface prior to
Healthy Young Teen Dies many diseases the young and the old personal hygiene I practiced on days disinfection.
from Swine Flu, Where’s the Vac- are at greater risk of complications. like that would be from the soaking I There is a virtual
cine?, H1N1 on the Rise, Ferret The two major strains known to got while bathing my horse the night smorgasbord of
Tests Positive for H1N1 in Oregon, cause disease in equids are H7N7 before a show! disinfectants on
Minnesota Pig Tested for H1N1, (first isolated in Czechoslovakia in Horse handlers should dedicate the market. In fact
Obama declares flu a national emer- 1956) and H3N8 (first isolated in boots and clothing for use on each between Canada
ria, viruses or fungi listed on their
gency, H1N1 Flu infects Turkeys in Miami in 1963). EI virus is endemic farm they visit. If this is not possible, and the United States there are over
label. Historically that also meant
Canada are just a few of the daily in North America and most of the boots should be cleaned prior to 8000 registered disinfectants. To
some of the chemistries used to dis-
headlines surrounding the current world with outbreaks documented as entering the premise and freshly avoid getting a headache while
infect were potentially harmful to the
H1N1 (formerly known as Swine far back as 330 CE. The H7N7 sub- laundered clothing or coveralls choosing the best product for your
user. Several chemistries are now
Flu) pandemic . Prior to the June type is believed to be extinct or pre- should be worn. This is also true barn there are a few key criteria to
defined as carcinogenic or hormone
2009 official declaration from The sent at very low levels. The H3N8 when returning from a horse show. keep in mind.
disrupting that can lead to long term
World Health Organization (WHO) subtype appears to be a mutation of Handlers should be encouraged not Cleaning Ability
side effects. A disinfectant with
that the global spread of H1N1 had an avian influenza virus. Some to wear the same clothing home or to In a barn we must be realistic that
favourable toxicological characteris-
reached pandemic status predications important outbreaks of the H3N8 at least change clothes before enter- even after cleaning, some residual
tics at in-use dilutions makes it both
of a doomsday scenario sufficient in subtype have occurred in North ing their barn, as there is the poten- organic matter will still be present.
easier and safer to use. Some key
scope to remove almost half of America (1872), Trinidad (1979), tial for them to carry a problem back This is especially with broodmares
attributes to look for are: volatile
humanity from the face of the earth Argentina (1985), South Africa to their farm. where the soil load after foaling is
organic compound (VOC) free (the
have been circulated by international (1986), Jamaica (1989), China particularly high and highlights the
products do not emit noxious fumes
media. (1989), Australia (2007) and France Cleaning of the Barn and Stalls importance of reading a product’s
that induce respiratory distress), non-
(2009). Most confirmed outbreaks The number one rule for dis- label. Some chemistries on the mar-
toxic, non-irritating to eyes, non-cor-
Influenza – What’s Relevant? have occurred at racetracks which ease control in any setting be it hos- ket are designed to be used as disin-
rosive or sensitizing to skin.
Influenza (flu) is a viral infec- resulted in suspension of racing pitals, schools, veterinary clinics or fectants only and do not contain any
tion which infects the respiratory activities for prolonged periods of horse barns is cleaning. Clean detergency properties meaning that a
tract (i.e., the nose, throat, lungs). time. means free of dirt and organic matter separate detergent will have to be
In today’s society the concept
Unlike many other viral respiratory Like transmission among such as manure. This means the used. Choosing a product that is a
of sustainability has taken root with
infections, such as the common cold, humans, EI is transmitted via removal of all manure and feed, fol- cleaner-disinfectant (one that has
consumers trending towards purchas-
the flu can cause severe illness and aerosolized respiratory secretions lowed by washing, scrubbing and detergency properties) will simplify
ing energy efficient products, recy-
life-threatening complications in (horses can cough and snort just as rinsing, or pressure washing, all sur- your cleaning and disinfection pro-
cling and composting. The concept
many people. Typically, influenza well as any human I know) and con- faces with soap and water. This cess but even that may not be enough
of sustainability can also be applied
is transmitted through the air by taminated surfaces including tack, should be followed by the use of a as some products sold as cleaner-dis-
to choosing a disinfectant. As with
coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols brushes or feed buckets and also disinfectant. Thorough cleaning will infectants are rendered ineffective in
health and safety from a personal
containing the virus. These droplets from people moving between infect- remove most of the dirt and grime the presence of organic matter mean-
perspective so to can products be
are propelled a short distance ed and uninfected horses. The most allowing the disinfectants to pene- ing they lose their disinfecting effi-
characterized by environmental pref-
through the air and deposited on a common source of infection and out- trate the surfaces and kill or inacti- cacy. Choosing a product that has
erence such as aquatic toxicity,
host’s mouth, nasal mucosa or con- break is the introduction of been tested in the pres-
bioaccumulation or resistance devel-
junctivae. Just envision what hap- a new animal into the herd. ence of organic matter
opment. Newer disinfectant
pens when you sneeze – stuff goes will help to ensure that
chemistries have been effectively
flying so in essence we’re eating or How can EI be prevent- disinfection will ulti-
designed to be more environmentally
huffing other peoples’ spit. Influen- ed? mately occur.
preferable. These products do not
za can also be transmitted by direct Similar to humans,
use dyes, do not have an impact on
contact with an infected person such prevention of equine Broad Spectrum Effec-
aquatic systems and do not leave
as shaking hands or kissing or influenza outbreaks are tiveness
active residues on surfaces. In Cana-
through indirect contact with con- maintained through vac- A disinfectant
da, disinfectants that meet stringent
taminated surfaces such as door cines, quarantining newly should not only be effec-
criteria and undergo third-party anal-
knobs, grocery carts or children’s arrived horses for at least tive against a wide vari-
ysis can be certified under the EcoL-
toys. In the Canada, on average, 14 days and hygiene proce- ety of microorganisms
ogo programme as being “green”.
10% to 25% of the population gets dures such as hand washing but also be effective
Something to consider since at most
the flu; more than 70 000 people are and cleaning and disinfect- against relevant microor-
farms a bucket of disinfectant is sim-
hospitalized from seasonal flu-relat- ing of clothing, surfaces, ganisms such as gram
ply dumped on the grass or hosed out
ed complications, and; between 4000 tools and equipment such negative and gram posi-
the door….not the best method of
and 8000 people die from seasonal as buckets, grooming aids tive bacteria, enveloped
disposal especially if using a product
flu-related causes. Some people, and tack. During an and non-enveloped
that harms the environment.
such as elderly people, young chil- influenza outbreak, thor- viruses and fungi.
dren, pregnant women, and people ough cleaning and disinfec- Some disinfectants may
What does it all mean?
with certain health conditions, are at tion of the horses’ environ- not be effective against
Unless you live in a country
high risk for serious flu complica- ment should become hyper- all microorganisms of
where Equine Influenza is not preva-
tions. important. Influenza virus- importance which can
lent, or board your horse at a barn
There are three further divi- es have been shown to sur-
sions of influenza viruses: A, B and vive on surfaces for long
Equine influenza virus is an example from a large group
lead to “holes” in your
where new horses are never intro-
infection control pro-
C. Influenza C rarely causes illness. enough that they can be
of viruses that naturally infect wild aquatic birds, which
duced and you are certain that every-
gram. It is also impor-
Influenza B is common and does picked up and infect a great
can act as a reservoir of virus for transmission into other
one who comes into the barn wears
tant to know that disin-
cause illness but only among number of horses. The
species. Cross-species transmission is a rare event and is
freshly laundered clothes and metic-
fectants do not kill on
ulously cleans their shoes, your horse
humans. Influenza A is the monster influenza virus is an
restricted by virus subtype – so that only certain types of
contact. Disinfectants
is at risk for contracting EI. To help
in the closet. Influenza A viruses are enveloped virus, meaning
influenza viruses are generally found in hosts such as
state a contact time (the
reduce this risk, keep your horses
found in a wide variety of terrestrial that it is easily killed by
horses, humans and pigs.
time the surface must
vaccinations up to date and ensure
beasts, winged creatures and ocean- disinfectants such as Qua- Courtesy of stay wet) on the label for
you have an infection control pro-
dwelling behemoths – ducks, chick- ternary Ammonium Com- that very reason. The
gram in place as needed. This is not
ens, wild birds, pigs, horses, whales, pounds (QUATs), Bleach, and vate the microorganisms. Thorough contact time dictates the length of
a daunting task it only takes a little
humans and as noted above even fer- Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide. cleaning is a must and can be very time it takes to achieve disinfection.
knowledge. Knowledge of what bac-
rets. Influenza A is further classified difficult to accomplish in many horse If the label states a contact time of 10
teria, viruses or fungi are relevant
by the two proteins on the surface of The A, B, C’s of an Infection Con- barns due to the presence of wooden minutes that means that surface
and how to break the chain of infec-
the virus – hemagglutinin (H) and trol Program walls, dirt floors, open ceilings and needs to stay wet for 10 minutes to
tion. Knowledge to choose the cor-
neuraminidase (N). There are 16 dif- The horse industry is very lax lack of drains. New barn construc- achieve the disinfection claims on
rect cleaning and disinfection prod-
ferent hemagglutinin sub-types and 9 when it comes to personal hygiene as tion often takes design and materials that label. Selecting a disinfectant
uct and how these products should be
different neuraminidase subtypes a means of preventing the spread of into consideration so that choices are product that has demonstrated the
(144 possible combinations!), but it disease. Swine and poultry indus- made to make cleaning easier and ability to kill a broad spectrum of
is important to note that not all tries require that their employees drains are installed in appropriate microorganisms including potentially
strains cause human infections. With “shower in and shower out” of their locations. For those of us with barns resistant strains of bacteria in the
Nicole Kenny is the Director of Pro-
respect to the current pandemic we facilities in order to prevent the with sand or other porous floors, shortest contact time will be key to
fessional and Technical Services for
are dealing with Influenza A/H1N1 spread of disease. Horse people, thorough cleaning may entail replac- creating an effective infection con-
Virox Technologies Inc, a Canadian
which was initially dubbed “swine however, commonly go from barn to ing the sand or clay from the stalls. trol program.
research and development company
flu” as it was found to be a novel flu barn and from a show to home with-
whom developed and currently man-
strain that evolved from combined out any concern for disease spread, Choosing a Disinfectant Health and Safety
ufacture the globally patented Accel-
genes from human, pig, and bird flu. an interesting statement to make Let’s face it, barns are dirty. Chemical exposure and poten-
erated Hydrogen Peroxide ® (AHP
coming from someone who, as a The presence of organic material, tial side effects of such exposure
®) technology for cleaning, disinfec-
What about horses? teen, routinely went from work at a including bedding, manure, feed, need to be considered. By definition,
tion and sterilization. Nicole can be
Equine influenza (EI) affects thoroughbred farm to the stables to blood, and pus, interferes with the disinfectants are designed to kill.
reached by email at
horses, donkeys, mules and other ride my hunter jumper and then action of most disinfectants, hence They are designed to kill the bacte-
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