As with humans, horses can become very ill from the normal influenza virus.? Although most horses can and do make a full recovery from the disease, those with a compromised immune system, and in particular very old and very young animals, are at a higher risk of succumbing to their illness.? Additionally, secondary infections such as pneumonia can develop and cause more difficulty for the horse, including lung and heart damage.
Horses with the equine flu present very similar symptoms to humans with a flu bug.? They tend to lose their appetite, be lethargic, run a fever, and have a harsh cough and nasal discharge.? Equine flu is very contagious, and is spread through airborne particles, as well as through infected buckets, brushes, or even unwashed hands.? The disease is extremely contagious, and entire stables can quickly become infected.
Prevention is the best option, and it is always advised to keep your horse up to date on his vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine.? Also, good hygiene is very important and all stables should maintain a regular routine of sterilization of equipment and good hand-washing.? Avoid sharing brushes or buckets with other horses, unless they have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected first.
Should your horse develop the disease, he should be moved to a large, clean, and dust-and draft-free stall.? If he can tolerate it, it might be wise to give him small amounts of light exercise, such as hand-walking, to help his body drain fluids and improve circulation.? As he recovers, you will be able to slowly re-introduce regular exercise to his routine.