Notifications available for equine disease outbreaks

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Horse owners, veterinarians, and other equine industry stakeholders can be alerted to infectious disease outbreaks and updates through an email notification system recently implemented by the Equine Disease Communication Center. So far, the site has posted about 195 alerts since going live in 2014; 90 of those alerts were since the first of this year. The aim is to mitigate the health, welfare, and economic implications of these events for U.S. horses and the industry as a whole.

The center’s Outbreak Alert email service, which began in earnest earlier this year, advises subscribers when an infectious disease outbreak is confirmed or there is an update, such as when a quarantine has been lifted. About 900 subscribers had signed up as of the end of May.

The EDCC website aims to get information out as soon as an outbreak has been confirmed by diagnostic testing or, in the case of reportable diseases, has been reported. “The state animal health officials and (Department of Agriculture) animal health officials have been fantastic about reporting to us as soon as they have the information, so we can often post an alert the same day as diagnostic confirmation,” said Bailey McCallum, the center’s communication manager.

The website also includes comprehensive information concerning diseases, vaccinations, and biosecurity as well as contact information for state veterinarians’ offices. Alerts and other information are also posted on the EDCC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The EDCC is based in Lexington, Kentucky, at the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ headquarters, with website and call center hosting provided by the United States Equestrian Federation.

“Creation of the Equine Disease Communication Center has been a true partnership of all segments of the equine industry,” said Dr. Nathaniel A. White II, a former AAEP president who has worked on the project from its beginning in 2012. “EDCC operations have increased as support has steadily grown with needed funding from all parts of the horse community.”

Donors and volunteers representing all areas of the equine community support the Equine Disease Communication Center activities and functions, which are facilitated through the AAEP Foundation.

Related JAVMA content:

Crisis communication (June 1, 2013)