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Development, application, and validation of a survey for infectious disease control practices at equine boarding facilities

Alanna T. KirbyDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Josie L. Traub-DargatzDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.
Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Ashley E. HillDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.
Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Lori R. KoganDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Paul S. MorleyDepartment of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.
Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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James C. HeirdCollege of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the Equine Sciences Program, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Abstract

Objective—To develop a questionnaire for self-assessment of biosecurity practices at equine boarding facilities and to evaluate infectious disease control practices in these facilities in Colorado.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—64 equine boarding facilities in Colorado.

Procedures—Survey questions were rated according to importance for prevention and containment of equine infectious diseases. Point values (range, 0 to 20) were assigned for possible responses, with greater values given for optimal infection control methods. Questionnaires were mailed to equine boarding facilities in Colorado advertised on the World Wide Web. Survey responses were compared with assessments made by a member of the research team during visits to 30 randomly selected facilities. Agreement among results was analyzed via a kappa test and rated as poor, fair, moderate, substantial, or nearly perfect.

Results—Survey responses were received for 64 of 163 (39%) equine boarding facilities. Scores ranged from 106 to 402 points (maximum possible score, 418). Most facilities received better scores for movement and housing of equids than for other sections of the survey. Respondents at 24 of 48 (50%) facilities that routinely received new equids reported isolation of new arrivals. Agreement between self-assessment by survey respondents and evaluation by a member of the research team was determined to be fair to substantial.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Most equine boarding facilities have opportunities to improve measures for prevention or containment of contagious diseases (eg, isolation of newly arrived equids and use of written health management protocols). Most self-assessments of infection control practices were accurate.

Abstract

Objective—To develop a questionnaire for self-assessment of biosecurity practices at equine boarding facilities and to evaluate infectious disease control practices in these facilities in Colorado.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—64 equine boarding facilities in Colorado.

Procedures—Survey questions were rated according to importance for prevention and containment of equine infectious diseases. Point values (range, 0 to 20) were assigned for possible responses, with greater values given for optimal infection control methods. Questionnaires were mailed to equine boarding facilities in Colorado advertised on the World Wide Web. Survey responses were compared with assessments made by a member of the research team during visits to 30 randomly selected facilities. Agreement among results was analyzed via a kappa test and rated as poor, fair, moderate, substantial, or nearly perfect.

Results—Survey responses were received for 64 of 163 (39%) equine boarding facilities. Scores ranged from 106 to 402 points (maximum possible score, 418). Most facilities received better scores for movement and housing of equids than for other sections of the survey. Respondents at 24 of 48 (50%) facilities that routinely received new equids reported isolation of new arrivals. Agreement between self-assessment by survey respondents and evaluation by a member of the research team was determined to be fair to substantial.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Most equine boarding facilities have opportunities to improve measures for prevention or containment of contagious diseases (eg, isolation of newly arrived equids and use of written health management protocols). Most self-assessments of infection control practices were accurate.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Heird's present address is the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843.

Supported by the USDA cooperative agreement with the Colorado State University Program for Economically Important Infectious Animal Diseases, and the Colorado Horse Development Authority.

Presented as an abstract at the 88th Annual Conference for Research Workers in Animal Disease, Chicago, December 2007, and at the Colorado State University Phi Zeta Research Day Fort Collins, Colo, February 2008.

Address correspondence to Ms. Kirby (atkirby@rams.colostate.edu).