Equine Biosecurity

How Equine Diseases Are Spread

Racing HorsesOne of the greatest disease threats to a horse is from another horse, whether through direct contact or through surfaces, equipment, vehicles or people contaminated by diseased animals.

Vaccination is important. Medication can be used once the horse or pony is seen to be sick. But neither can offer complete, effective and economical protection against the wide range of disease organisms that threaten horses. Biosecurity completes the triangle of protection - excluding disease organisms from the animals' environment. This is the only way to break the cycle of disease.

Biosecurity can only be achieved through regular and comprehensive routines, using products that are proven to be effective against viral, bacterial and fungal disease organisms.

Viru-Gard is the ultimate equine disinfectant the formulation of which has been independently proven to be effective against viral, bacterial and fungal organisms which can cause disease in horses.

How to Control the Spread of Equine Diseases

Stable Blocks and Horse Boxes

  • Remove all movable equipment (feeders, drinkers etc)
  • Remove all organic material (mud, soiled bedding and refuse) through scraping and brushing
  • Using either a pressure washer, knapsack sprayer or watering can disinfect all surfaces with Viru-Gard solution (1:100 dilution rate)
  • Allow surfaces to dry before replenishing bedding and replacing equipment Feeders Tack and other Equipment
  • Wash drinkers, feeders, tack and other equipment with Viru-Gard solution (1:100 dilution rate) until visibly clean
  • Rinse with clean water and then allow to dry

Aerial Disinfection

Stable dust and airborne nasal discharges can transmit infection from horse to horse. Viru-Gard can be used as an aerial disinfection spray to help control airborne disease causing organisms.

Using a knapsack sprayer or pressure washer, on a fine mist setting, spray Viru-Gard solution (1:200 dilution rate) into the stable on a daily basis. There is no need to remove the horses during aerial disinfection.

Topical Use

Washing your horse with Viru-Gard at a dilution rate 1:100 can help control the skin challenge of organisms that are responsible for Ringworm, Mud Fever and Strangles.

Use a clean sponge to apply the Viru-Gard solution, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Viru-Gard – The formulation proved  effective against Equine Pathogens

Causative Organism

Viral Disease

Reovirus (Orbivirus)
Equine Arteritis virus
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV1)
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV3)
Papova Virus

African Horse Sickness
Equine viral arteritis (EVA or pink eye)
Equine herpes abortion, respiratory and neurological disease
Coital exanthema
Equine papillomatosis
Equine infectious anaemia (Swamp Fever)
Adenovirus respiratory disease
Equine influenza


Bacterial Diseases

Clostridia sp.
Salmonella sp.
Streptococcus equi
Taylorella equigenitalis (CEM)
Klebsiella pneumoniae & Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Dermatophilus congolensis
Various bacteria especially Dermatophilus
congolensis and Staphylococcus aureus

Clostridial diarrhoea
Enteric colibacillosis
Contagious Equine Metritis
Other bacterial endometritis
Dermatophilosis (Rain Scald)
Mud Fever


Fungal Diseases

Trichophyton spp. Microsporum spp.

Ringworm (Dermatophytosis)


How to make a 1:100 solution of Viru-Gard




1 litre

10 grams

10 litres

100 grams

100 litres

1 kilogram

1 gallon (4.5 litres)

45 grams

How to make a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard


1 litre

5 grams

10 litres

50 grams

100 litres

500 grams

1 gallon (4.5 litres)

22.5 grams

Where possible it is recommended to use an all-in, all-out policy, obtaining calves from a single source and avoiding mixing age groups. An adequate intake of colostrum should be ensured wherever possible, bedding changed frequently, ventilation checked and over-stocking avoided.

Disinfection and hygiene regimes should be put in place to operate at all stages of calf-rearing, and buildings should be thoroughly cleaned before and during occupation. Stress plus the presence of infectious agents will generally result in disease. However  the cycle can be broken, with healthy calves as a result, by using an effective hygiene program.

FarmCareGB's Viru-Gard is a product highly suited to use in hygiene programs for housed calves. This broad spectrum disinfectant is a safer alternative to Gluteraldehyde and Formaldehyde and can be used in the presence of and in contact with the calves.

Key steps in an effective Hygiene Program

  1. Prior to occupation the building should be thoroughly cleaned of all organic debris and then pressure washed using Quat-Gard at a dilution of 1:500.
  2. Once thoroughly clean, all surfaces should be sprayed with a solution of Farm-Gard or Viru-Gard at a dilution of 1:200 at a rate of 300ml per square metre and allowed to dry.
  3. Check the building for good, draught free ventilation. This can easily be done using the ‘smoke bucket’ technique; burn some straw in a metal bucket and watch the smoke escape from the building.
  4. Never use dusty or mouldy bedding. Once the bedding is in place and just before the introduction of the calves fog or mist the building and bedding with a solution of Viru-Gard at a dilution of 1:200.
  5. Clean buckets and utensils regularly with a solution of Viru-Gard at a dilution of 1:100.
  6. Should scouring occur, clean up as quickly as possible and disinfect the affected area a solution of Viru-Gard at a dilution of 1:100. This is of particular importance with individually penned calves.
  7. Use vaccines only after proper consultation with your veterinary service.

Stable Block Cleansing and Disinfection

Stage 1. Removal of Equipment and Dry Cleaning

StablesThe removal of all gross organic soiling is essential because dung and refuse contains high levels of contamination and are a major source of infection. High levels of soiling will also reduce the efficacy of the cleaning and disinfection process.

  • Remove feeders, drinkers, buckets etc. from the area to be disinfected and put to one side for cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Remove all dung, soiled bedding and unused feed from the area to be cleaned using brushes, forks and spades. Dust can be vacuumed from ledges.
  • Dispose of all dung and soiled bedding by burial, incineration or transport from the site.

Stage 2. Pre-Cleaning and Sanitizing

Following any dry cleaning process high levels of infective material will still remain. Cleaning and sanitizing using products with detergent capacity and a biocidal activity to remove soiling from the walls and floors ensures greasy deposits do not remain on rough surfaces e.g. concrete and wood. Detergent-sanitizers also reduce the time taken to clean by up to 60%, and reduce the spread of disease in washing water.

  • Use Farm Care Quat-Gard diluted at 1:500 or 1:250 for foam application.
  • Apply with a knapsack sprayer or pressure washer. The pressure washer should be set on a low pressure setting 500 psi (35 bars) using a 45 degree angle jet. Use the appropriate application rate.
  • Start at the apex of the roof and work down the walls to the floor paying particular attention to corners and other areas where dirt accumulates. Caked soiling should be brushed if necessary to aid removal.
  • Allow surfaces to dry where possible before disinfection.

Moveable Equipment

Equipment removed from the stable before dry cleaning; buckets, feeders, drinkers, etc can carry heavy pathogenic contamination and if not thoroughly cleaned.

  • Either soak and scrub equipment in a tank or pressure wash with Quat-Gard.
  • Store equipment where it will not be re-contaminated.

Stage 3. Disinfection

The level of disease organisms, particularly viruses, present after cleaning and sanitizing is still high enough to offer a serious disease challenge.

The use of a broad spectrum disinfectant active against viruses, bacteria, yeasts, moulds and other pathogenic organisms is essential to complete an effective disease control programme.

It is of prime importance to ensure all surfaces are thoroughly wet with disinfectant to break the chain of infection.

Use FarmCareGB's Viru-Gard

  • Apply at recommended dilution rate.
  • Use a knapsack sprayer or pressure washer at 35 bars (300psi) with a 45 degree spray head.
  • Pay particular attention to corners, cracks, seams and porous surfaces e.g. wood and concrete, which can retain infective material.
  • Spray in the apex of the roof and work down the walls to the floors.
  • Allow surfaces to dry before allowing horses back into the stable.

Stage 4. Optional Fogging and Aerial Disinfection

When the stable block has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected all moveable equipment should be returned and new bedding can be laid. To control any disease that could be brought in with the bedding and to disinfect inaccessible areas that might have been overlooked, the stable should be fogged.

  • Spray Viru-Gard diluted at 1:100. Spray into the eaves using a very fine mist from a pressure washer or using a mechanical fogger.
  • Use at a rate of 1 litre of solution per 100 cubic meters. Fogging with Viru-Gard is safer and more effective than traditional methods of fogging with aldehydes. Stables fogged with Viru-Gard can have horses reintroduced immediately following fogging, the bacterial and viral kill is complete and there are no chemical hazards associated with its use.

Horse Box Biosecurity Programmes


Horse BoxThe importance of biosecurity for all vehicles cannot be stressed enough. This applies especially horse transport and feed vehicles, but also to any others visiting or leaving a stable yard. Horse transport and other vehicles, such as feed lorries; provide an excellent vector through which disease can spread. Cleaning and disinfection must be carried out to minimise the possibility of transmission of disease. OurTransport Biosecurity programme provides owners, trainers, studs and hauliers with step-by-step procedures to follow, which if adhered to can help reduce disease transmission via transportation of livestock:


In addition to horse transport vehicles all vehicles e.g. feed lorries and contractors must follow this summary to reduce the potential for transmission of disease.

  • Only essential vehicles should enter the stable area.
  • All vehicles visiting the stables should be kept outside the biosecurity perimeter if at all possible.
  • Vehicles should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using the Vehicle Biosecurity Programme prior to arrival at the stables.
  • Wheels, tyres and wheel arches should be cleaned and disinfected upon arrival at the stables using wheel dips or sprays where provided.
  • Personnel should use footdips and the Hand Hygiene System prior to entry to premises

Cleansing and Disinfecting Agents




1:500 (1 L in each 500 litres)


500 ml/m²




1:100 (1 KG in each 100 litres)


300 ml/m²


  • Before uing ndertaking the following biosecurity programme please ensure that the person carryout the procedure is wearing clean and disinfected protective clothing. Protective face visor and rubber gauntlets must be worn during the disinfection stage of this procedure.

STAGE 1. Dry Cleaning - Removing Organic Soiling

It is essential to remove all gross organic soiling from the vehicle as dung and refuse contain high levels of contamination and are a major source of infection.

Using brushes, shovels and forks ensure the following area's are covered:

Inside the Horse Box

  • Starting at the top and working down, first scrape out all soiled bedding and refuse, then brush the floors, walls and division gates of the trailer ensuring that all organic material is removed.
  • Ensure that any gross organic material is removed from the tail lift/ramp and gates by scraping and brushing.

Outside the Horse Box

Particular attention must be paid to the removal of organic material from the underside of the trailer where deposits can build up. Using a stiff handbrush (or pressure washer where necessary), ensure that any deposits of mud, straw etc are removed from the wheels, wheel arches, tyres, mudguards and exposed chassis of the trailer.

All soiled bedding and refuse should be disposed of in accordance with Local Authority or Government guidelines.

STAGE 2. Cleaning & Sanitizing

Following the removal of the soiled bedding and refuse, high levels of infective material will still remain. Cleaning with Quat-Gard at a dilution of 1:500 for spraying or 1:250 for foaming will ensure that greasy deposits do not remain on any surfaces. Using a detergent such as Super Quat also reduces the time taken to clean by up to 60%, and reduces the spread of disease in washing water.

Apply with either a knapsack sprayer or pressure washer using the appropriate application rate (500ml/sq.m for normal application 250ml/sq.m for foam application). If using a pressure washer, ensure that it is set on a low pressure setting (approx. 500 psi (35 bar)) using a 450 angle jet.

  • Using the brush attachment for the pressure washer, start at the top and work down each side of the trailer working the Quat-Gardsolution into the surfaces and any orifices.
  • Using the lance attachment at low pressure apply Quat-Gardto the wheels, wheel arches, tyres, mudguards and underside of the trailer.
  • Inside the trailer, starting at the top and working down to the bottom, ensure that the ceiling, sides, divisions and floors are all treated thoroughly.
  • Attention must be paid to the tail ramp and gates.
  • Ensure that all equipment stored in the trailer such as shovel, brush, etc are removed and washed.
  • Allow at least 10 minutes to for the detergent to penetrate and loosen the dirt from all surfaces before rinsing at high pressure.

It is essential to have removed all organic material before proceeding to the disinfection stage.


The level of disease organisms, particularly viruses, present after cleaning and sanitising is still high enough to offer a serious disease challenge. The use of a broad spectrum disinfectant such as Viru-Gard, active against viruses bacteria, yeasts, moulds and other pathogenic organisms and must be used to complete this effective disease control programme.

Using Viru-Gard at a dilution of 1:100 solution (1kg in each 100 litres) and rate of 300 ml/sq.m at low pressure:

  • Outside of the trailer, start at the top and work down each side.
  • Ensure that special attention is paid to the wheel arches, tyres, mudguards and underside of the trailer.
  • Inside the trailer, starting at the top and working down, ensure that ceiling, sides, divisions and floors are disinfected thoroughly.
  • Attention must be paid to the tail ramp and gates.
  • Ensure that all washed equipment from the trailer such as shovel, brush; etc is sprayed or soaked in Farm Care Viru-Gard

In very rare instances, Farm Care Viru-Gard may affect untreated metals, inferior or damaged galvanised metals. In these cases we recommend rinsing these areas with clean water after disinfection ensuring a contact time of at least 5 minutes.


  • Park the trailer on a slope to drain and dry.
  • Once the trailer is removed from the wash area, wash down the concrete surface with Quat-Gard making sure no muck or debris remains.
  • Wash and disinfect waterproof overalls and boots.

For environmental awareness take care to avoid any solutions entering surface water drains or water courses. A discharge consent may be required for large volume discharges to foul sewer.

Equine Diseases


EVA is a viral disease. In the stable environment, infection occurs by ingestion of contaminated material or by inhalation of droplets from infected horses' nasal discharge which remains infective for 8-10 days.

HorseyThe virus is also shed in urine and semen, which is an important means of transmission in breeding establishments. Infected stallions are commonly short-term convalescent carriers, but a number are long-term carriers and continue to shed virus for up to two years.

Given these means of disease transmission, it is wise to ensure that a thorough cleaning and disinfection program is observed, especially on travelling to and at events and at breeding establishments.

The formulation of FarmCareGB's broad spectrum disinfectant Viru-Gard, which has superior virucidal activity, has been tested against EVA virus at the Central Veterinary Laboratory at Weybridge, and proved effective at a dilution rate of 1:130 (0.29 %). Due to its composition, Viru-Gard has the advantage over other types of disinfectants of being safe to use in the presence of horses, and is recommended for use either as an aerial fogger, or for treating potentially contaminated equipment such as drinkers, feeders and tack. Current users of this formulation include race courses (for starting gates), transportation companies (for horseboxes) and country show-grounds (for overnight stabling).

The formulation of Viru-Gard has been proven effective, in independent tests, against the causal organisms of all viral families known to affect animals and man. This includes the equine herpes viruses, contagious equine metritis (CEM) and equine flu viruses, as well as bacteria and fungi such as Trichophyton spp (the causal agent of dermatophytosis or 'ringworm') and Dermatophilus congolensis (implicated in 'rain scald' and 'mud fever').


Equine rhinopneumonitis virus (EHV type 1 or "equine abortion" virus) is highly infectious and primarily affects the respiratory system. It is believed that transmission occurs by the inhalation of infected droplets or by the ingestion of material contaminated by nasal discharges or aborted foetuses.

EHV1 has two subtypes - (1) associated with abortion and less commonly paralysis of the hind limbs and sometimes the front limbs; and (2) associated with respiratory disease, but also capable of causing abortion.

The disease-causing organisms can survive for 14-45 days in the environment and to date there is no effective treatment for EHV1. The inactivated vaccine most commonly used contains both strains of EHV1 and EHV3. For maximum possible protection, it is recommended that the whole herd be vaccinated contemporaneously for horses from 5 months of age, followed by a second vaccination 4-6 weeks later. This will lessen the possibility of cross infection from horses already incubating the disease at the time of the first vaccination.

However, strict hygiene control procedures to avoid the spread of disease in the environment must be enforced through a thorough cleaning and disinfecting routine using a proven disinfectant/cleaner.

Independent tests carried out have proven the formulation of the broad spectrum disinfectant, Viru-Gard to be effective against the EHV1 and EHV3 strains of the equine herpes viruses at a dilution level of 1:100. It  has been tested on and proven effective against a far wider range of veterinary organisms than any other disinfectant, including equine arteritis virus, equine influenza virus, streptococcus equi causing 'strangles', trichophyton spp/microsporum spp (ringworm), and dermatophilus congolensis which is implicated in 'mud fever' and causes 'rain scald' - whilst being safe in use and safe to the environment.

Viru-Gard can be used to clean and disinfect all feed bins, water buckets and equipment, bedding and stabling and as an aerial spray to combat the threat from airborne infectious organisms.


Though treatment of the equine throat infection strangles is fairly straightforward in the modern era of antibiotics, strict hygiene precautions are an essential part of the disease's control. The bacterium responsible for this very unpleasant and painful disease, Streptococcus equi, is both highly infectious and contagious. Affected horses must be isolated and every precaution taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

First symptoms of the illness are fever and swelling of the lymph nodes around the throat and neck. These swellings develop into pus-filled abscesses which burst, causing a nasal discharge. This discharge, which can be easily transferred from the horse to tack, food and water containers, bedding and stable walls, is teeming with millions of Streptococcus equi bacteria. For this reason a rigorous hygiene programme must be followed to prevent transference to other horses, or even, in rare instances, to humans.

Strangles is a painful, serious and debilitating disease. Prompt treatment with antibiotics combined with an effective disinfection regime is essential toprevent its spread.

It is recommendedthe broad spectrum biocidal disinfectant cleanser Viru-Gard, should be used in a total disinfection regime. Viru-Gard should be dissolved in clean water at a dilution of 1:100, and used to clean and disinfect drinkers, feeders and tack.

After the period of isolation is over - usually about four weeks after the start of the infection - bedding should be removed and burned. The stables should then be thoroughly dry cleaned and brushed out, before all surfaces are cleaned manually or by pressure washer with Viru-Gard solution.

Viru-Gard can be used as a shampoo to clean and disinfect rugs and blankets, and used in a fogging system in the stables to remove stable dust and airborne infections from the atmosphere.


Ringworm is a superficial fugal skin disease transmitted by contact with infected horses, brushes, tack, riding boots, rugs and surfaces e.g. stables and paddock rails. Trichophyton equinum and T. mentagrophytes are the primary causes of ringworm in horses, although Microsporum gypseum, M.canis and T.verrucosum are also seen in some cases. Most lesions are seen in the saddle and girth regions, producing “girth itch”.

It is most common in racing stables and riding schools where horses share equipment. Transmission from man to horse, and vice versa, is uncommon, but may occur.

Young animals, and those in poor condition seem more susceptible, particularly in warm humid conditions. Contaminated girths are the most common cause of spread in training stables, with up to 90% incidence in young horses in an outbreak.

Symptoms of ringworm

  • Multiple areas of hair loss, scaling and crusting that enlarge outwards, and then heal in the center.
  • The lesions are not usually very itchy, but it is best to avoid putting tack over areas with actual lesions.
  • Diagnosis is confirmed by taking skin scrapings if the lesions are unusual in their distribution. Microscopic examination and or culture is then used to distinguish the infection as there are several diseases in horses which can produce similar skin lesions, including bacterial folliculitis and dermatophilosus (another fungus-like organism which produces rain scald and greasy heel).

Treatment of ringworm

  • Minimise cross infection by allocating separate brushes, saddlecloths, etc. for each horse.
  • Alternatively, plastic coated bridles and plastic girth sleeves may be washed after use with warm soapy water and disinfectant daily in a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard.
  • Saddlecloths and girths may be washed in a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard.
  • Avoid foam rubber pads, which cause sweating and harbour the ringworm fungus
  • Shampoo affected horses daily with a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard. Allow contact with the disinfectant for 10 minutes before rinsing drying with a separate clean towel for each horse
  • Infected horses, after shampooing as above should be returned to stables that have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a 1:100 (1%) solution of Viru-Gard. Affected horses should be isolated until treatment if effective.
  • Daily fogging of stables with a fine mist of a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard is advised during the course of an outbreak.
  • Grooming equipment, rugs and saddlery should be disinfected with a 1:200 solution of Viru-Gard and placed in direct sunlight regularly. and affected horses should be isolated until treatment if effective.
  • Skin resistance against infection may be improved by supplementing with a vitamin and mineral supplement including Vitamin A, and trace minerals such as copper and zinc.