People: Kelsey Spence, Jackie Cardwell, Josh Slater

The international nature of the horse industry poses challenges for exotic disease prevention and control. While equine exotic disease incursions into the United Kingdom (UK) are rare, they can cause significant health, welfare, and economic consequences. Disease prevention and control is highly regulated in some sectors of the industry (e.g. racing). However, the leisure horse sector lacks the same level of regulation, and thus little is known about their current level of preparedness for an exotic disease incursion.

The objectives of EXPLORE are to:

  1. Investigate the knowledge, understanding, and attitudes of non-racing horse owners to exotic diseases, and identify potential blocks to uptake and adoption of principles of exotic disease recognition and control
  2. Understand diagnostic approaches for suspected infectious diseases by non-racing veterinarians and identify whether specific clinical signs or patterns of signs associated with prioritised exotic diseases are considered as differentials
  3. Identify how many degrees of separation there are between non-racing horses and horses that are moving internationally
  4. Conduct a risk assessment of likely routes of transmission into the UK, identifying which diseases require consideration for risk-based educational and training materials to improve knowledge and adoption of biosecurity principles within the non-racing sector.

The EXPLORE project aims to identify the needs of the leisure horse sector in regard to educational resources for exotic disease prevention, recognition, and reporting. Furthermore, the results will provide a better understanding of the risks posed by exotic diseases, and the potential for improvements to the current preparedness and response strategies.

Funding: The Alborada Trust

Collaborators: Dr Sarah Rosanowski (City University of Hong Kong)

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