Internet shopping for a horse can be incredibly convenient and allows for purchases and sales throughout the entire country and beyond. The resulting purchase or rescue of a horse site-unseen has also greatly increased the introduction of contagious diseases in the state of Massachusetts. We have noticed far more cases of Strangles infection in the past year than usual.
Below are some guidelines to help you protect yourself and your horses and to be a responsible member of the Massachusetts horse community. Please review these recommendations and share with your friends before bringing a horse into Massachusetts from out of state.
1) Health Certificate: Before the horse is shipped to your home or boarding facility, ask the seller to provide you with a copy of a federally approved Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Although the certificate is good for 30 days, ideally you would try to have your veterinary inspection performed within a few days of the shipping date. A veterinary inspection includes taking a horse’s temperature as fever is often the first sign of disease. Additionally, the veterinarian will be evaluating the horse for swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge, normal lung sounds, and normal mucous membrane appearance. By performing a thorough physical exam the veterinarian may identify subtle signs that suggest the horse may be harboring an infection.
2) Coggins Test: In addition, you will need a current (within the past six months) negative Coggins(EIA) test.
Securing all of the proper paperwork might seem like an added and stressful burden, but these animal transport requirements are in place to protect your horse’s health and well-being by helping prevent, control, and hopefully eradicate disease. Such regulations have protected the U.S. equine industry from the spread of foreign animal diseases such as vesicular stomatitis and piroplasmosis. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to a state mandated quarantine of a boarding facility or your own stable should you import a horse into the state which has contracted a contagious reportable disease such as Strangles.
3) Quarantine: Even if you have had a veterinary inspection prior to your horse’s transport, a period of 14 -21 days quarantine is recommended. Your new horse could have been contracted an illness during the transport process from another horse on the shipment or from trailer/handlers harboring infectious material from other animals being transported. Due to the delay between exposure to an infectious agent and displaying clinical signs, quarantine should last at least 21 days. While a horse is under quarantine, he should not have direct contact with other horses, not share any personal care items (buckets, brushes, etc.), and should be cared for last by his caretakers to reduce cross contamination.
If you have any questions about bringing a horse into Massachusetts, please call the office (508-885-4205) and we can help set you down the right path with your new equine buddy.