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Maintain a Happy, Healthy Horse by Keeping Flies at Bay

As the summer season settles in, horse owners are looking forward to warmer temperatures and spending more time with their horses at a horse show, around the barn or on the trail. Unfortunately, these joys of summer also bring flies and the threat of infectious disease spread by these pesky insects. Flies are a nuisance all year round, spreading many diseases to horses. However, it’s when heat of summer hits and the fly populations are on the rise that people tend to take notice. Horse owners should keep an eye on mosquitoes as they can act as a disease vector for West Nile Virus, also house flies and stable flies help spread Pigeon Fever.

Recently veterinarians, particularly in the western states, have reported a surge in cases of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, also known as pigeon fever or dryland distemper. Pfizer Animal Health recommends taking action with SOLITUDE® IGR (2.12% cyromazine) to control the fly population.

Pigeon Fever is a bacterial disease that can linger in a horse for months1. When the bacteria infects, it localizes in deep abscesses in the breast muscles, along the abdomen, and/or in the groin region1. The pigeon fever name comes from swelling in the chest that resembles a pigeon’s breast. Pigeons do not actually spread the disease. Rather, the disease may be transmitted by flies, including the common housefly and horn flies. The bacteria can also live in soil and enter the horse’s body through wounds or broken skin and through mucous membranes2.

“Many horse owners know they need to protect their horses from diseases such as West Nile Virus – there are vaccinations available to do that,” said Dr. John Donecker, VMD, MS, Senior Veterinarian at Pfizer Animal Health. “Pigeon Fever has not been as common – that is until now –and there are no vaccinations available to provide protection against the disease.”

Pigeon Fever can be challenging to manage. Like so many diseases, early signs of the disease include lameness, fever, lethargy, depression and weight loss2. Infections can range from mild, small, localized abscesses to a severe disease with multiple massive abscesses containing liters of liquid, tan-colored pus2. Resolution of the disease depends on the horse and can take weeks or even months.

This disease is usually highly contagious and can easily infect multiple horses on the premises. According to a Colorado State University Veterinarian Report, “Bacterium in the pus draining from abscesses on infected horses can survive from one to 55 days in the environment. It has also been shown to survive from one to eight days on surface contaminants and from seven to 55 days within feces, hay, straw or wood shavings. Lower temperatures prolong the survival time.” Consistent and careful disposal of infected bedding and other materials used in the stall is important. Veterinarians also recommend thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting stalls, paddocks, utensils and tack with products such as ROCCAL®-D PLUS.

Fly control is the primary focus of pigeon fever prevention as an effective vaccination is not available. While horse owners can use fly sprays, sheets and masks to reduce insect bites, Pfizer Animal Health recommends incorporation of a feed-through fly control program with SOLITUDE IGR to reduce the overall population of flies on the property.

To achieve best results with SOLITUDE IGR, horse owners only need to top dress their horses’ feed with one-half ounce of SOLITUDE IGR daily. The active ingredient, cyromazine, is described as an insect growth regulator, or IGR, because it inhibits the production of chitin in house and stable fly larvae. Chitin makes up the exoskeleton, or hard outer shell, of many insects. Fly eggs laid in treated manure hatch into larvae but are unable to properly produce chitin and die before emerging as adult flies.

As adult populations decline, SOLITUDE IGR users may experience noticeable results within two weeks, with full results realized in four to six weeks. Though some fly repellents or bait systems may be necessary to control flies that migrate from untreated areas, many farms report dramatic reductions in fly populations. For best results, horse owners should start feeding SOLITUDE IGR before flies start laying eggs each spring. Owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine the ideal treatment program for their location.

“SOLITUDE IGR has a safety record that horse owners can trust to help reduce house and stable fly populations without creating any toxicity issues,” said Donecker. “Taking a proactive approach to stop flies before they hatch, is the best preventative to spreading diseases like pigeon fever.”

Story Credit: http://www.pfizerah.com/index.aspx?country=US&species=OO&lang=EN&drug=PU



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