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Diseases Humans Catch From Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Oct 2015   •   2,121 views   •   0 comments
Diseases Humans Catch From Horses

Ever wondered if your horse can make you sick? Not the horse crazy type sick? But truly ill in some way? As it turns out, itís rare, but possible. If your horse contracts a zoonotic disease, there is a slight chance it could be passed along to you.

What is zoonotic?
A zoonotic disease is one that can be passed between animal species. If you pick up certain types of microbes from your horse, itís possible that you too might be affected by that bacteria. Again, itís really rare for this to happen, but there are times when you should be diligent about basic hygiene and use common sense. And, here are the more common zoonotic diseases you should know about.

Rabies
Hydrophobia! gasps Katie Coates in the movie Old Yeller when the family cow seems fearful of its calf. Sheís seen the distressed cowís symptoms before and instructs that it must be shot and the body burnt to avoid spread of the disease. Before antibiotics and vaccines, rabies was a terrifying possibility for humans and animals. Itís still common in wildlife, most often foxes and skunks. Horses can get rabies from wildlife. So can we, and we can get it by coming in contact with any animal including horses, with the disease. And, the animal doesnít have to sink itís teeth in either. Any bodily fluid we come in contact with can carry the virus. Thatís why Mrs. Coates wisely had the cowís body burnt, so that no other animal would try to eat it.

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Ringworm
Who wants big round red itchy welts on their skin? No one. Ringworm can also make your hair fall out. And, itís ridiculously easy to get. Most of our companion animals can get ringworm. Itís a share and share alike disease. Ringworm is not actually a worm. Itís caused by fungus. Fortunately, itís not hard to get rid of. And while itís uncomfortable and embarrassing itís far from fatal. No one will want to cuddle you or your horse until itís cleared up.

Mange
Mange is caused by a little mites that burrow under the skin. Nice to think you and your horse can share unwanted passengers, no? There are several types of mange, but basically hair loss and itchy, inflamed skin are the symptoms. Again, embarrassing, uncomfortable, but easy to clear up. If itís not cleared up, the animal can scratch enough to open lesions on the skin, which can become infected.

Hendra Virus
This is a rare virus in horses, and even more rarely is it passed onto humans. Just over ten years ago, there was an outbreak in Australia and several horse handlers came down with pneumonia-like symptoms. Turns out it was Hendra or equine morbillivirus likely picked up from the horseís manure, mucous or saliva.

Anthrax
Those who work with animal carcasses or living animal tissue may be in danger of picking up anthrax. This is a very scary disease, largely because of its association with chemical warfare. Veterinarians are most susceptible when the animal they are treating has the virus. And, it occurs naturally in the soil, which is why in some places cattle herds or wildlife may get it. Itís been decades since any human actually died of it. While itís zoonotic, itís also highly unlikely to pose a danger.

Disease Both You And Your Horse Can Get, But Canít Get From Each Other:

Your horse might get lice. Itís not at all uncommon. But, you probably wonít get lice from your horse. Lice are particular about the types of blood they snack on and horse lice donít care for human blood and visa versa. Humans and horses can get West Nile Virus, but they wonít catch if from one another. The carriers are mosquitoes, which of course are happy little vampires that arenít picky about blood types. Even though horses and humans can have the WNV in their bloodstream, theyíre dead end hosts. Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis are two other viruses that end with humans and horses. We and our horses can get E and WEE, but we canít pass it along.

Avoiding Zoonotic Diseases
Washing your hands, keeping your stables clean and keeping sick horses in quarantine are common sense ways to avoid the spread of most diseases. Vaccines protect your horse from many diseases. If you suspect your horse is ill, itís important to find out what the cause is. Call your veterinarian for advice. If you become sick or show signs of having a skin condition at the same time your horse has one, consult with your doctor.
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