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Medical Index
First Posted Sept 2, 2009
Jul 25, 2010

Horse Bites and Disease Transmission

"That Horse Bit Me: Zoonotic Infections of Equines to Consider After Exposure Through the Bite or the Oral/Nasal Secretions"

"That horse bit me: zoonotic infections of equines to consider after exposure through the bite or the oral/nasal secretions. Langley R, Morris T./ North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Raleign, North Carolina 27699-1923, USA. rick.langley@.net

Millions of individuals are in contact with horses through occupational or recreational activities. Injuries from horses are responsible for over 100,000 emergency room visits each year in the United States. Although various types of traumatic injuries related to direct contact with horses are well described, roughly 3% to 4.5% of all reported injuries are due to bites by equines. The immediate injuries are commonly either blunt or penetrating trauma to local tissue; however, the bite exposure may also transmit a microbial agent of equine origin that can lead to a zoonotic infection. In almost all jurisdictions in the United States, animal bites are considered public health events and should be reported to the local health departments. Many animals can harbor many unusual zoonotic pathogens that both the individual health provider and public health officials much consider as they can adversely impact both the patient and the community health. This review focuses on those zoonoses that have been reported in the literature, including those that may in theory be transmitted from equine to human by direct inoculation or exposure to oral/nasal secretions from horses and other equine species."

Have you ever been bitten by a horse. I have. My husband and I were visiting Florence, Italy. On our way to the Uffici Gallery we crossed a large piazza (The Italian Piazza is the center of public life in Italy) where there are many horses and carriages. We were just walking when all of a sudden a horse stretched out his neck, showed his teeth and bit me on my upper arm. It was really painful! I had an up-to-date tetanus booster so I felt safe. We travel with a small first aid kit so I did clean the wound and apply an antibacterial ointment. Little did I know, at that time, that many other diseases can be transmitted to humans by horses.

You might find the following useful if you ever get bitten by a horse. Humans can get diseases from horse bites--and not just a few, I might add.

This link will provide you with more information on zoonotic diseases. It is also found on HorseHints.

If you do get bitten make sure to use good hygiene. Clean out the wound and apply neosporin or something similar to reduce the chance of infection. Contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Medical Index