Evolution of equine infection control programs

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13 Scopus citations


The science of control of infectious diseases in hospitals was born in 1847 when Semmelweis, a physician, ordered his medical students to scrub their hands in chlorinated lime water between patients and demonstrated that this simple procedure resulted in a dramatic decline in patient morbidity and mortality. In the late nineteenth century came huge breakthroughs in the understanding that microorganisms cause many disorders, and methods to eliminate and control these microorganisms were attempted. By 1910, sterile instruments, gowns, masks, and gloves had become standard for surgical procedures in large university human hospitals, and isolation of human and veterinary patients with contagious diseases became standard. With the advent of vaccines, many epidemic viral diseases could be controlled, and antimicrobial drugs allowed many previously devastating bacterial diseases to be treated effectively. Before long, however, bacterial resistance became an important issue and remains so today, particularly for Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus in horses. Vaccination has decreased the number of animals susceptible to equine influenza and equine herpesvirus 1, yet these contagious diseases still pose a serious issue in large equine veterinary hospitals. The development of equine isolation facilities and improved methods of barn cleaning; mandatory application of procedures, such as handwashing or use of disinfectant hand wipes, to prevent the spread of infectious diseases; and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance and use of restricted antimicrobial drugs were driven by recognition and necessity and have given rise to current equine infection control programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-530
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Clinics of North America - Equine Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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