Additional Colorado Mustang Dies at Holding Facility

An additional Mustang has died at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facility in Cañon City, Colorado, bringing the total of deaths attributed to equine influenza to 144.

Canon City BLM holding facility location of wild horse deaths
BLM Colorado Administrative Units map shows location of Canon City wild horse holding facility.

An additional Mustang has died at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facility in Cañon City, Colorado, bringing the total of deaths attributed to equine influenza to 144. The BLM provided an update on May 28 to the ongoing equine influenza outbreak in Fremont County, Colorado. The Mustangs are housed at the Cañon City Wild Horse and Burro Facility.

On May 24, the BLM released a report that contained necropsy reports of the latest death:

Situation Report 5/24/22 – Histopathology results indicate the presence of severe diffuse
necrosuppurative bronchitis and bronchiolitis with suppurative bronchopneumonia consistent with the
equine influenza virus and streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus infections previously
identified. Laboratory testing of liver samples for Cu, Mg, Zn, Se and Mo, Vitamins A and E levels has
been completed with no significant mineral deficiencies or toxicities found. Vitamin E levels were
normal, vitamin A levels were low. Recommend continued feeding of the protein, energy, vitamin and
mineral supplement that was started at the beginning of the outbreak.”

The outbreak began on April 23, when nine horses in four pens were found dead. Those horses had been gathered from The West Douglas Herd Area in July and August 2021. Two dozen more horses promptly started showing clinical signs and died or were euthanized. A wildfire occurring shortly before the horses were gathered might be a contributing factor, because smoke can stress horses’ respiratory systems.

The BLM continues to monitor the situation.

EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.

About Equine Influenza

Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that infects horses, ponies, and other equids, such as donkeys, mules, and zebras. The virus that causes it is spread via saliva and respiratory secretions from infected horses. Horses are commonly exposed via horse-to-horse contact; aerosol transmission from coughing and sneezing; and contact with humans’ contaminated hands, shoes, or clothes or contaminated tack, buckets, or other equipment.

Clinical signs of equine influenza infection can include a high fever (up to 106°F); a dry, hacking cough; depression; weakness; anorexia; serous (watery) nasal discharge; and slightly enlarged lymph nodes. Consider monitoring your horse’s health at shows by taking his temperature daily, which can help you pick up on signs of infection early and take appropriate measures to reduce disease spread.

​Vaccination is an important and inexpensive way to protect your horse. US Equestrian requires proof that horses have had an equine influenza vaccination within the six months prior to attending organization-sanctioned competitions or events. Your veterinarian can help you determine what other vaccines your horse might benefit from.

In addition to vaccinating, following strict biosecurity protocols can help reduce your horse’s chance of infection and disease. Such measures include quarantining new equine arrivals at barns, disinfecting buckets and equipment, and preventing nose-to-nose contact between horses.

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