EDCC: Nine Years of Service to the Horse Industry

The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) is celebrating nine years of protecting horses and the horse industry from the threat of infectious disease in North America. The EDCC communication system is designed to seek and report real-time information about diseases and help prevent the spread of infectious disease.

The origins for the center came about in 2010 when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Horse Council (AHC) met to discuss how the horse industry would respond to an epidemic affecting horses throughout the U.S.  This meeting suggested the need for a National Equine Health Plan to describe actions needed to prevent and mitigate an outbreak. When completed the plan included creating a communication system to coordinate a response between owners and regulatory officials.

The EDCC was born in response to an outbreak at a cutting horse show in Utah in 2011. An equine herpesvirus resulted in the spread of the disease when exposed horses left the show to go home or another show. In the end, exposed horses went to 19 states. Of the primarily exposed horses 54 were confirmed EHV-1 and 46 were suspected. Of the 1,685 horses with secondary exposure 36 were confirmed and 26 suspected in 22 states. A total of 23 horses died or were euthanized from the neurologic form EHV-1. The economic cost to the industry could not be calculated, however we know there were cancellation of events as happened in California which had around 312 shows or events canceled due to the outbreak during the next year.

The lack of communication among horse owners and states during the outbreak was considered one of the reasons for the spread of the disease in the western US that year. This outbreak stimulated the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to set up a task force to see what could be done to improve communications and to highlight the need for biosecurity. This evolved into the current EDCC which consists of a website with real time alerts, disease information, biosecurity information and other industry resources.

“After the EHV outbreak in Utah, it was apparent that the equine industry needed a better way to communicate during infectious disease emergencies” said Dr. Nathaniel White, EDCC founder and director. “Currently the EDCC keeps everyone aware of the outbreak status in North America and helps to prevent misinformation and rumors which can cause unnecessary curtailment of horse activity.”

 Since its inception, the EDCC has issued more than 3,000 alerts for more than 5,000 different outbreaks. The alerts come from state veterinarians or attending veterinarians who submit disease alerts to be posted on the EDCC website.  All submissions are reviewed seven days a week to ensure accuracy and immediately posted.

“I rely on the Equine Disease Communication Center for the Paulick Report’s communication of equine infectious disease outbreaks,” said Natalie Voss, editor-in-chief of the Paulick Report.  “Before the EDCC, we’d get messages from readers who were trying to run down rumors of outbreaks and depending upon which state was involved, it wasn’t always easy for us to get details on what was going on. Now, I feel I can rely on the information we’re receiving, and the EDCC’s educational resources give me a good basis to tell readers what to watch for if they need to monitor their horses for illness.”

The EDCC is funded entirely by donations from companies, major breed and discipline associations, veterinary hospitals, racing, and individuals from across the horse industry.  Donations can be made on the website at https://equinediseasecc.org/support-us

Contact: Leslie Barlow
EDCC Communications Manager