The equine cold is also known as equine influenza. This virus is an upper respiratory infection found in horses, zebras, donkeys and mules across the world. The virus is extremely contagious and needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible in order to prevent an outbreak of the disease.
Look for symptoms to appear that include loss of appetite and energy, difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, fever, nasal dripping and mucus, stiff movement and an overall lethargic appearance. The degree of noticeable symptoms will be different depending on how long the horse has been infected and its overall health, so it is important to not disregard milder symptoms. If you suspect your horse has equine influenza, take the horse to an isolated area so that the disease does not spread. Remove any shared food or water and replace with fresh food and water. Call your veterinarian to be certain whether or not the horse has the flu. A vet will take a swab of the nasal mucus to test for the presence of equine influenza, and can also take a blood sample to test for the virus.
If tests show that your horse is infected with equine influenza, feed your horse ample quantities of fresh food and water. Rest is the most important part of recovery, so keep the horse confined to a stall or small pen to prevent overexertion. Hand-walk the horse if exercise becomes necessary. According to Veterinary Practice News, for each day a horse has a fever, a full week of recovery is needed. A veterinarian may prescribe antipyretics for a horse that has an extreme fever. Since the flu can lead to pneumonia, antibiotics can also be helpful to aide the recovery process.
Lower the risk of spreading the disease by maintaining a quarantined area for infected horses throughout their recovery period. Disinfectant or bleach can be used to clean areas that the infected horse may have touched or leaked fluids on. Always wash your hands after touching an infected animal. Clean and disinfect communal areas and products such as brushes, boots and food bins. The best method of prevention is the equine influenza vaccine. The vaccine requires a periodic booster shot to maintain the immunity levels, and is especially important for horses that travel and come in contact with other animals and germs on a regular basis.