The implementation of biosecurity practices and visitor protocols on non-commercial horse properties in New Zealand
A survey was conducted to investigate biosecurity practices on non-commercial horse properties, to describe the number of visits by horse professionals and any protocols that visitors were required to follow before interacting with resident horses. Data were collected in November 2009 during a cross-sectional study of non-commercial horse properties, in New Zealand, selected using generalised random-tessellated stratified design and a self-administered postal questionnaire. Data were described and the associations between property-level factors and biosecurity practices were analysed using logistic regression analysis. In total there were 791 respondents from non-commercial horse properties, of which 660 (83%) answer at least one question relating to biosecurity practices. Of the respondents, 95% had at least one biosecurity practice for arriving horses. Only 31% of properties isolated horses for more than four days, and few respondents checked for pyrexia or other clinical signs of infectious disease in new horses. Moving horses from a property was associated with the implementation of biosecurity practices and practices specific to the clinical signs of respiratory disease. Overall, 79% of properties had horse professional's visit, but only 33% of respondents reported biosecurity protocols for these visitors. Most properties had some knowledge about newly arriving horses, but the effectiveness of these practices for biosecurity were questionable, as few practices would stop disease spread to resident horses. Horse professionals are likely candidates for disease spread due to contact with horses, limited visitor protocols and the frequency of visits. The development of a plan to improve biosecurity for endemic and exotic disease is recommended.
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