The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of two different methods of online education using the knowledge base of African horse sickness (AHS) among US equine veterinarians as a model. An e-mail was sent to US veterinary members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), inviting them to participate in a complementary online educational opportunity. We determined participants baseline knowledge of AHS by their responses in an AHS case scenario. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a Webinar module or a text-formatted module, followed by an educational assessment quiz. Educational effectiveness was measured by considering the difference between the educational assessment quiz score and the baseline knowledge score. Of the 5,394 members from the AAEP list, 309 veterinarians agreed to participate, but only 211 completed the entire study. The median baseline knowledge score from the case scenario was 20 out of a perfect score of 100 points. The median assessment quiz score after the participants had access to the AHS educational material was 90, which was significantly higher than the baseline knowledge score (p=.01). Educational effectiveness in the module formats showed no significant difference (p=.81). Results from this study suggest that online education modules, once accessed, may improve participants knowledge of veterinary diseases.
This study is the first report estimating, on a national basis, the use of various biosecurity practices, singly and in combination, on U.S. equine operations. Use of biosecurity practices is described for operations by risk level, based on reported exposure of resident horses to outside horses during the previous 12 months. In addition, the association between use of various biosecurity practices and use of antibiotics to treat infectious disease in both adult equids and foals is reported. The comparison of these study findings with previously reported data in the literature is limited by the fact that few estimates of biosecurity practice use on equine operations have been reported and none has been published on a national basis beyond those in the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) equine reports. A total of 78.5% of operations had some risk of exposure of resident horses to outside horses between summer 2004 and the time of the interview in summer 2005. For the majority of biosecurity practices, there was a significant (p<0.05) difference between different exposure risk levels in the percentage of operations using the practice. A higher percentage of high- and medium-risk operations implemented a combination of 4 or more biosecurity practices compared to low-risk operations. There was less use of antibiotics to treat infectious disease in adult horses on operations that required those who visit the operation to use separate equipment, change clothes/overalls, disinfect boots and equipment, or park vehicles away from animals than on those that did not. None of the other biosecurity practices were associated with use of antibiotics in adult horses and none of the biosecurity practices included in this study was associated with use of antibiotics in foals. For adults the use of antibiotics for infectious disease increased with decreasing herd size; this trend was reversed for antibiotic use in foals. The effect of exposure risk level was different for adults and foals. For adults, antibiotic use was lower for operations at higher risk; for foals, antibiotic use was higher for operations at higher risk.
Arthropod-borne apicomplexan pathogens that cause asymptomatic persistent infections present a significant challenge due to their life-long transmission potential. Although anti-microbials have been used to ameliorate acute disease in animals and humans, chemotherapeutic efficacy for apicomplexan pathogen elimination from a persistently infected host and removal of transmission risk is largely unconfirmed. The recent re-emergence of the apicomplexan Theileria equi in U.S. horses prompted testing whether imidocarb dipropionate was able to eliminate T. equi from naturally infected horses and remove transmission risk. Following imidocarb treatment, levels of T. equi declined from a mean of 10(4.9) organisms/ml of blood to undetectable by nested PCR in 24 of 25 naturally infected horses. Further, blood transfer from treated horses that became nested PCR negative failed to transmit to naïve splenectomized horses. Although these results were consistent with elimination of infection in 24 of 25 horses, T. equi-specific antibodies persisted in the majority of imidocarb treated horses. Imidocarb treatment was unsuccessful in one horse which remained infected as measured by nested PCR and retained the ability to infect a naïve recipient via intravenous blood transfer. However, a second round of treatment eliminated T. equi infection. These results support the utility of imidocarb chemotherapy for assistance in the control and eradication of this tick-borne pathogen. Successful imidocarb dipropionate treatment of persistently infected horses provides a tool to aid the global equine industry by removing transmission risk associated with infection and facilitating international movement of equids between endemic and non-endemic regions.
A 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding was hospitalized in Ocala, Fla, because of lethargy, fever, anorexia, and swelling of distal aspects of the limbs. A tentative diagnosis of equine piroplasmosis (EP) was made on the basis of examination of a blood smear. The case was reported to the Florida State Veterinarian, and infection with Babesia equi was confirmed. The subsequent investigation included quarantine and testing of potentially exposed horses for B equi and Babesia caballi infections, tick surveillance, and owner-agent interviews.
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