THIS week is Strangles Awareness Week. The horse charity Redwings are working to raise awareness of the importance of daily temperature monitoring to identify and prevent the spread of infectious disease.

It is not just Strangles: outbreaks of Herpes virus in Europe and California, foal diarrhoea in Kentucky, and influenza in the UK show how important temperature monitoring is. Infectious diseases can have terrible economic and welfare consequences. Irish company EquiTrace are working with Merck Animal Health USA (known as MSD outside US and Canada) to provide the horse industry with technology to combat infectious disease.

“When combined with the Bio-Thermo™ microchips as has been done in Kentucky you now have one of the most powerful epidemiology tools that veterinarians have ever had available. The temperature graphs quickly identify animals that have a fever, the GPS record tells you exactly where on a property they are. Accurate, complete, live databases are critical in disease investigation.” explains Dr Kevin Corley of EquiTrace.

Dr Nathaniel A White II DVM MS Diplomate ACVS, Director of the Equine Disease Communication Centre goes on to add: “EquiTrace is a game changer for improving horse health. Anytime rapid access to timely information can be kept in one central location, it improves horse medical care.”

Merck Animal Health USA announced its strategic partnership with Irish-based technology company EquiTrace Ltd., creators of the EquiTrace® platform in 2021. As Merck Animal Health rolls out Bio-Thermo™ microchips in the USA, they are being used on many top farms in Kentucky this year. Bio-Thermo™ microchips have been placed in over 40,000 Standardbreds as the US Trotting Association make microchips mandatory.

EquiTrace works in conjunction with Merck Animal Health USA’s Bio-Thermo™ microchips, allowing horse care professionals to instantly read, graph and monitor a horse’s temperature. Bio-Thermo™ microchips measure a horse’s temperature within one-tenth of a degree.

Dr. Scott Bailey, resident veterinarian at Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, has taken on the Bio-Thermo™ chips and the EquiTrace app for temperature monitoring because of last year’s outbreak of diarrhoea in foals on the farm.

He agreed that when taking foal temperatures rectally, it is very difficult to avoid cross-contamination when that foal has diarrhoea. With 150– 70 foals born yearly on Claiborne Farm, with an average sale price of $150K as yearlings, managing infectious disease effectively is vital. He also pointed out that some infectious diseases in foals can lead to sepsis or can create career-limiting lesions, while others, in the worst case, can kill a foal.

On large farms like Claiborne, taking temperatures takes time and people. The Bio-Thermo™ microchips reduce the time to take a horses temperature to just a few seconds making accurate temperature monitoring of every animal twice even three times daily a realistic prospect.

“The microchip is especially helpful during yearling season when temps are required for health papers and we get them done quickly. In my experience, the microchip readings are usually within 0.1 degree of rectal temperatures” explained Dr. Sarah Mackie DVM, Winbak Farm

Kinsale Stud were involved in beta testing the EquiTrace App and manager Rachael Kempster found she could quickly identify foals who were developing a fever, take bloods and get treatment started before any other overt signs of disease were detected. She remarks: “Having EquiTrace with the Bio-Thermo™ microchips saved two foals this season.”