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Viral Infection

Horse Viral Infection

Everyone knows a bit about viruses.’ They are not cells and do not have bodies like bacteria.’ They are made up of little particles like DNA and invade cells in your horses body so as to multiply in number.’ They cannot be killed’ by antibiotics and can only really be properly protected against with the use of vaccines or strengthening the horses natural body defences.’ There are thousands of viruses that are completely harmless to your horse but a few cause very serious problems when they manage to get inside the body.’ They may pass between horses just in the air or by bodily contact depending on which type of virus is involved.

Often when a vet knows that a horse has caught a virus it is very difficult to determine what sort’ of virus is the problem.’All a vet will usually know is that the white bloods cells inside the body have changed in a way that is typical if a virus is present and the horse may be very tired, perhaps anaemic and generally not very well.

Diseases that some viruses produces when they get into a horse include
  1. Flue (not very often seen now because of vaccination)
  2. Coughs (bacteria etc often also involved)
  3. Tiredness and weakness
  4. Abortion (eg Equine herpes virus)
  5. Anaemia (viruses often attack red blood cells)
  6. Weak immune system (like in AIDS)

Viruses can live inside your horse for many months.’ In fact once a horse is infected they probably rarely go away totally.’One particular type of virus called herpes is very bad in this regard and is well known for being very difficult to get rid of at all.’ A horse has to learn to live with the infection once it has been established and will sometimes have problems for a long time.

’Viruses on’ your computer are called so because of the way that they act like viruses in animal bodies, grow inside your machine and then cause’ lots of problems.’ They are made by computer experts in order to behave like viruses in nature.’ It is however a lot harder to get rid of a nasty virus in your horse than a virus in your computer.’ Luckily in the UK we do not have some of the worst and most serious viruses that exist such as African Horse Sickness virus and West Nile Virus and Equine Infectious Anaemia.’This is usually because such viruses are passed on to horse via the bites of certain mosquitos and flies that cannot live in the cold UK.


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