Common Diseases Found In Race Horses

Common Diseases Found In Race Horses

Racehorses, despite their breeding, accommodation, diet, and top-tier medical assistance, are still biological organisms, and as such, can still contract a number of diseases that can instantly put an end to their career. These are diseases that have plagued horses for thousands of years, and include diseases that are carried by insects, genetic predisposition, and environmentally contracted.

For a breeder and trainer, the health of their horse is absolutely imperative, and knowing which diseases are common and what their symptoms are is vital to ensuring that the horse in question is always in the best physical shape. A horse’s health isn’t just a factor to the breeders, but also to other industries who keep an eye of how a horse is doing, especially those who enjoy Australian sports betting and other types of betting. With all that in mind, these are some common types of horse’s diseases.

Insect-Borne Diseases

Insects can carry a variety of diseases, and horse owners are always advised to keep an eye on the kinds of insects that are around their animal, especially during spring and summer when more insects are around. One such diseases that has high prevalent during summer especially is the Ross River Virus. It’s commonality is often due because it is carried by mosquitoes, an insect that can breed by the hundreds of thousands during the warmer weather of summer.

Some of the symptoms to watch for include a stiff gait, ataxia, depression, tremors, and a reluctance to walk or move. The Ross River Virus can cause inflammation throughout the body of the horse, and in some cases can lead to death if the inflammation affects the brain.


One of the biggest problems that racehorses can face are arboviruses. These are viruses that are caused of previous infection, and can quickly spread through the animal and are often the catalyst for more deadly infections and diseases.

One such is Murray Valley Encephalitis, which is a zoonotic (a disease that can be transferred between horses and humans) and is often directly connected to the previously mentioned Ross River Virus. Murray Valley Encephalitis often does not show many symptoms, but can also lead to severe inflammation, and a horse that might be suspected of carrying the diseases is immediately taken to a vet.

In fact, a number of viruses that damage horses are the result of the Ross River Virus, which is considered an Alphavirus due to the fact that it can quickly cause other viruses to blossom.

Scientists believe that the majority of horses carry an arborvirus for most of their lives, but only a fraction of horses actually suffer from the side affects, meaning that those unaffected can act as hosts and pass the virus on to other horses. A positive blood test is often administrated, and the horse will undergo a series of treatments to ensure that it can longer pass the virus on, and to make sure the virus does not become harmful.

About Doreen Cohen