Horse Council Issues Foot-And-Mouth Guidelines

Though the United States hasn't issued a formal ban on the importation of horses from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease, the American Horse Council continues to monitor the situation in Europe and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue new importation guidelines.

The horse council is taking preventative measures against West Nile virus and Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) as well.

The horse council and the USDA on April 4 announced a new set of guidelines for disinfecting horses that enter the U.S. from foot-and-mouth infected countries. The requirements are effective immediately.

"Foot-and-mouth disease is a very big, big concern," said Amy Mann, director of health regulations and affairs for the AHC. "We believe it could be disastrous not only for livestock in this country, but for the horse industry as well because of the movement of horses around the country."

The foot-and-mouth requirements are as follows:

  • Horses that enter the U.S. from foot-and-mouth-affected countries must have a health certificate with an endorsement from a veterinarian designated by the National Veterinary Services.

  • Tack trunks and containers sent independently of the horses must be accompanied by a certification for disinfection.

  • Horses are to be groomed to remove dirt and debris, and subsequently wiped, sprayed, and sponged down with a vinegar solution of 6.5 ounces of concentrated glacial acetic acid in one gallon of water. Their hooves are also to be cleaned and then disinfected with 4% sodium carbonate solution. It must be preformed at the airport in the exporting country prior to departure and is to be repeated upon arrival in the U.S.
  • All crates and transportation vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected. It must be preformed in the exporting country and upon arrival in U.S. quarantine facilities.
  • Personnel who accompany the horses must launder or dry clean their clothing and outerwear. Footwear must be cleaned and then disinfected.

Horses can't contract foot-and-mouth disease, but like humans they can be mechanical carriers.

The horse council has urged the USDA to facilitate a rapid approval of a new vaccine for West Nile to prevent the virus before it can begin spreading. "It's important that we have this vaccine before cases start showing up in late summer," Mann said.

Each year, the horse council presents the Rolapp Award to the member of Congress who has done the most for the horse industry the previous year. The award is presented in honor of the late Rich Rolapp, president of the AHC from 1979-1993. This year's award was presented to Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky at the AHC's annual Congressional dinner in Washington, D.C., April 2.

Rogers sponsored an amendment to the Interstate Horseracing Act to clarify that federal law permits interstate wagering on pari-mutuel racing, and that each state can license and regulate the activity.