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Horse Diseases



Dealing with Horse Diseases & Conditions

Horses, like humans, can have accidents and suffer periods of illness. We, as their guardians, must learn to recognize and deal with these events.
The following is merely a brief guide for dealing with the most common problems seen in equine medicine and is by no means exhaustive. Specific advice should always be sought from a vet or expert trainer if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to cope with a sick horse.

Common Horse Diseases:

While this list isn't exhaustive, it gives you an idea of what common horse diseases can be treated or prevented.


While it is certainly a condition that strikes dread into any horse-owner, colic is a fairly common digestive problem of horses. Symptoms often result from sudden changes in the horse's diet. In addition to severe stomach pains, outward symptoms generally include uneasiness, kicking, looking at flanks, sweating and thrashing out. Horses with colic should be given a deep bed and kept warm. Gentle walking may help symptoms improve. Prompt veterinary attention is necessary if symptoms are extreme or persist for longer than thirty minutes.

Equine Encephalomyelitis:

Eastern and Western encephalomyelitis are diseases caused by viruses carried by rodents and birds, but transmitted to horses though a mosquito bite. The virus affects the nervous system, causing depression, nervousness, a lack of coordination, teeth grinding, drowsiness and, finally, paralysis. Vaccination can prevent EEE and WEE. In areas with a long mosquito season, spring and fall vaccination is recommended. Mosquito control is vital.

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA):

Also known as swamp fever or Coggins disease, equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes and other biting insects that destroys a horse's red blood cells. Once infected with EIA a horse is infected for life and acts as a reservoir for the virus. The exception to this rule is the nursing foal who may have tested positive for EIA because it has obtained the antibodies to the virus through the dam's colostrum. While it is not transmitted directly between horses, the virus can spread from one horse to another through the bite of an insect, improperly sterilized needles, surgical instruments and dental floats and poorly cleaned bits. Symptoms include fever, weight loss, a lack of coordination and swelling of the abdomen.


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