Outbreak Alert is a recently-launched website and program started by Merial, manufacturers of a number of equine vaccines and other veterinary products. The website tracks a number of infectious equine diseases, including West Nile Virus, and EHV-1, and was launched by Merial to “support horse owners and veterinarians in their efforts to keep their horses healthy.” Website visitors can enter their zipcode to see a map of local disease cases within a 250 mile radius. Outbreak Alert also offers a free alert service for users who register using either an email address or phone number. When future disease outbreaks occur, users will be sent relevant information in either email or text format.
According to the site, San Jose and Santa Clara County currently remain free of infectious disease cases. The two most prevalently represented diseases within the 250 mile radius of San Jose are EHV-1 and West Nile Virus. There was a recent small outbreak of 3 EHV-1 cases in a Sonoma County barn in late August, but it was quickly contained and has been determined to be unrelated to last May’s widespread outbreak originating at an Ogden, UT cutting event. West Nile Virus is transmitted to horses the same way it is transmitted to humans: through infected mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds, which are the most common carriers of the disease.
Outbreak Alert covers reported disease outbreaks all over the country. Covered diseases include rabies, EEE and WEE (Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis), West Nile Virus, EHV-1, Equine Infectious Anemia, Potomac Horse Fever, and Influenza. They have a strict verification process to determine the legitimacy of outbreaks, and use sources such as the USDA/APHIS, and state veterinarians and departments of agriculture. Depending on the disease, information about a particular outbreak will typically remain on the site for 4 to 9 months. APHIS championed the filtering, consolidation, and dissemination of information about May’s EHV-1 outbreak, and was the go-to source for verified updates on the spread of the outbreak and where cases were located.
The Outbreak Alert program also aims to educate horse owners about equine health and the importance of vaccination against many common, and some easily preventable, diseases. View the site for new disease alerts, information about recognizing the signs of different diseases, and to take an informative quiz to test your knowledge about infectious equine diseases.
To sign up for alerts or learn more about Outbreak Alert, visit their website.