10 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   23rd Mar 2014   •   3,650 views   •   0 comments
10 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Horse

When we're working around horses, we tend to share a lot of germs with them. Who else but a horse owner would eat a sandwich with one hand, while brushing their horse's tail with the other? We've all done it and probably haven't come to any harm. We're more likely to get a broken toe from being tromped on then pick up any sort of sickness from our horse.

However, it is possible for your horse to make you ill, although it is extremely rare, a few of the viruses that infect horses can also infect humans. And, some of the bacterium that is on your horse's body might affect you adversely. Is it a worry to eat a sandwich with unwashed hands after you've brushed your horse's tail? Well, you'd probably be better off washing your hands before handling food. There is a small risk that ecoli, campylobacter or other bacteria from manure could be on your horse's tail or hair. All can make humans very sick.

Related: Which Vaccinations Does Your Horse Really Need
Related: 2014 EHV-1 Symptoms and Outbreak Locations
Related: Six Horses in Tennessee Quarantined After Testing Positive for Equine Infectious Anemia
Related: Horse in Texas Team Roping Competition Tested Positive for Rabies

Hendra virus is another disease that can be transferred from horse to human. Back in 1994, several Australian horse handlers became sick with pneumonia like symptoms. It was determined that they had contracted equine morbillivirus, and it was likely picked up through the bodily fluids of the horses they worked with, such as blood, mucous or manure.

Rabies is a virus that affects all mammals, and although very unlikely, it is possible to get it from your horse, dog or cat. The animal doesn't actually have to bite you. It can be transmitted via mucous or saliva through a skin wound. In 2011, there were almost 50 confirmed cases of equine rabies in the United States. However, you can protect you and your horse by vaccinating your horse yearly.

There are a few skin diseases that you might get from your horse. Ringworm and mange are very contagious. Ringworm is fungi, and mange is a small mite that burrows into the skin that causes irritation. Lice though, are species specific and horse lice won't live on you.

Remember the anthrax scares a few years ago? Vets, because they work with living tissue may be susceptible to anthrax poisoning if they are dealing with an animal that has this disease. Anthrax in livestock crops up every now and again, but there haven't been any human deaths connected to it for a very long time.

When the hot weather hits, we'll start seeing more news stories about Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. Humans can be infected by both viruses and so can horses. However, humans and horses are not hosts or vectors. Which means, that neither, we nor our horses can pass the virus on. We're dead-end hosts, which means the bug stops here.

So, while horse to human spread of disease is extremely unlikely, it's wise council to wash your hands after working with your horse, especially if you're handling or eating food. Make sure your horse has at least its core vaccinations. And, if you are concerned about any disease that might spread to you or other horses call your vet for advice.
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