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Horses

The Swedish horse population is estimated to 355.500 horses (the Swedish Board of Agriculture, 2016), which amounts to 36 horses per 1000 residents. The figure per capita is considered high compared to most other European countries. About 76.800 farms hold horses and the mean number per farm is 4.6. The horses are mainly sport- or companion horses. About 100 years ago there were over 700 000 horses in Sweden, mainly military- and draft horses.

In Sweden there are mainly sport- and companion horses. Photo: Bengt Ekberg/SVA

The health status of horses in Sweden concerning infectious diseases is favorable. None of the listed epizootic diseases that infect horses have been reported for many years, if ever.

Strangles is the most commonly reported of the endemic, notifiable equine infectious diseases, according to statistics from the Swedish Board of Agriculture. In average 75 premises /year were reported with strangles during year 2013 to 2017. Equine herpes virus type 1 abortion was reported in 2 - 13 outbreaks yearly, 2011 – 2016. Infection with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus was diagnosed in 2 - 9 outbreaks yearly, 2010 – 2016. Many horses are vaccinated against equine influenza, and the incidence of influenza is very low, although a peak of 15 outbreaks were reported in 2011. Some equine infectious diseases found in Europe are only rarely seen in Sweden. For example, only sporadic domestic cases of salmonella occur, and equine theileriosis is only found in imported horses. No case of West Nile fever or infectious anaemia has been reported. Though, the latter was endemic in the country about 60 years ago. To maintain the favorable health status, National veterinary institute (SVA) offers competence and diagnostic services for the species concerned. Samples from horses and other animals are analyzed for microorganisms and toxins, as well as prohibited substances in the doping control. The pathology division offer autopsies and pathological analysis of biopsies from e.g. skin lesions and tumours.

National veterinary institute performs scientific research to generate knowledge of current horse diseases. Equine veterinarians at National veterinary institute provide extension services to clinicians around the country by answering questions on sampling techniques, interpretation of test results, spread of infectious disease, antibiotic resistance and other issues. The experts are also lecturers, organizers of courses and seminars, and design information material about horses and equine research. The institute have close collaboration with the horse industry, other governmental agencies, researchers and universities. Risk assessments are written at request from other governmental agencies.

 

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