Shipping Fever Pneumonia is the DVT of the Equine Transport Industry

By Dr. Michael Hurley | Posted on October 22, 2020

Shipping Fever Pneumonia (SFP) is the most common complication encountered when transporting horses. As with DVT in humans, which is generally caused by sitting for long periods during travel, SFP is a direct result of horses being unable to move around and lower their heads during transportation.

As a rule of thumb, when travelling for more than 10 hours, expect 10% of horses to develop a degree of SFP. In some cases, the resulting lung infection can be mild and even go undiagnosed, in others, it can develop into severe pleural pneumonia with lung abscesses and laminitis.

Anyone experienced in horse transportation has seen cases of SFP. It remains a major health and welfare issue and can be particularly devastating on the performance of horses shipped long distances to compete.

The standard advice for the prevention of SFP is fourfold:

• Do not travel a sick horse

• Ensure a dust-free and well-ventilated environment

• Allow the horse to lower its head during transportation

• Break up long journeys and let the horse out every 8 hours if possible

Monitoring rectal temperature is also highly recommended as a fever is the first clinical sign of SFP. This recommendation is however, completely impractical during the transportation process. Not only is taking the rectal temperature a difficult procedure to perform inside the confines of a trailer or a cramped jet stall of an aircraft, it’s also a health and safety concern for the individual attempting to take it. The treatment options available to you at 35,000 feet after being injured by a horse are limited!

The VetTrue System by Epona Biotec has been developed to monitor the temperature of horses accurately and safely, even during transportation. The disposable TailTab sensors are attached beneath the tail and send real-time temperature data via Bluetooth to a users’ iPhone. As horses developing SFP may initially appear bright and alert and continue to eat and drink normally, they are often transported for hours without anyone being aware they are actually sick.

The early detection of a fever using the VetTrue System is the key to ensuring SFP cases are identified as early as possible so positive action can be taken. To learn more about the VetTrue System and to place an order, please visit – It’s All About the Horse

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