Case of equine distemper leads to stable being put under quarantine

A case of equine distemper, a contagious upper respiratory tract infection, has been confirmed at a stable in the canton, meaning it has been put under quarantine.

In order to respond to any person’s concerns about the disease, which is sometimes known as strangles, the owner of the stable concerned, Urs Wächter of Baar, organised an information evening.

“We have the disease under control,” he said. “There is no need for any hysteria,” adding how the stable had been put under quarantine to stop the disease from spreading. Affected animals, mainly foals and younger ones, suffer from a high temperature, coughing and increased levels of nasal mucus. While it is highly contagious, only rarely does it lead to death. He went onto explain that no new horses would be brought to the stable under the present circumstances, and none would leave it, either. It was hoped that everything would be back to normal at this Zimbel stable in three or four weeks’ time.

“As far as I know, there have been no instances of the disease at other stables,” he said, though the infection is not notifiable, as the cantonal vet, Rainer Nussbaumer, confirmed. Furthermore, there is no risk to humans.

Nevertheless, as Susanne Zürcher of the Zug Cavalry Association (ZKV) explained, riders have been advised to avoid a nearby area of woodland at Steinhausen and avoid their horses coming into contact with others they are not familiar with. She further explained that walkers could transmit the bacteria on their shoes, though, unless there was any subsequent direct contact with horses, this was not a risk. Roaming dogs and cats could also transmit the bacteria, though again, Zürcher played down any risk.

As a result of the outbreak, the ZKV had advised riders on what to do in case their horses became infected, namely to isolate them and prevent visitors from going to the affected stables. The importance of personal hygiene was also mentioned, with people advised not to feed horses they did not know, nor reward them with cubes of sugar. She also recommended a change of clothes having visited a stable and said how all forthcoming events had been cancelled.

It was mentioned how the afore-mentioned symptoms become apparent after a two-week incubation period, affected horses also showing increased signs of fatigue.

Christian Czech, the senior vet at the Neugraben Horse Clinic in Niederlenz in the canton of Argovia, said this case in Zug was an exception and should remain so. Fortunately, affected horses can be treated in their own stable, obviating the need for admission to a clinic.    

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