On Oct. 24, the quarantine that prevented any horses from leaving or being brought onto the Laramie County Community College campus was lifted by the equine program.
LCCC’s equine program enforced the quarantine on Oct. 6 after two horses were euthanized in the LCCC stalls for an unknown illness. Along with the two horses, another horse was diagnosed with strangles and was isolated from having contact with other horses.
The lift on the quarantine came three weeks after unknown circumstances led to the two horses being euthanized. The two horses were taken to separate locations for examination, one at the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab and the other to Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
“The veterinarians are able to rule out a lot of things that are common, so we had enough information that we felt comfortable enough to lift the quarantine,” said Jill Koslosky, interim dean of the School of Business, Agriculture and Technical Studies. “Between that and we were beyond the incubation period for the first two horses and for strangles, so that’s why we released them.”
Strangles has been ruled out as the cause of death for the two horses, and the horse that was infected by strangles has been brought home by its owner per veterinarian discretion.
Strangles is the equivalent of E. coli for humans. It is a common illness among horses and is something that many horses carry inside of them. However, not all horses carry the disease, and if a horse does carry the disease it does not mean that it will ever show symptoms.
“This strain was not the real visible droopy strain of strangles, but we still had it confirmed by the veterinarians at Colorado State,” Koslosky said. “The only way to know that it doesn’t have it anymore after it stops showing the signs that it had, which included a fever, is to go back and be scoped.”
It is unclear if the horse that came down with strangles has been scoped off campus again by its owner.
Veterinarians have been able to rule that the euthanized horses were put down because of pleuropneumonia, but it is still unknown what illness lead to pleuropneumonia.
“The cause of death was pleuropneumonia, what caused pleuropneumonia is what we are still trying to figure out and what we are waiting on for the final testing,” Koslosky said. “One horse went to the CSU Veterinary Hospital and one horse went to the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab. It’s like having a second opinion, since both horses presented very similar and they were housed together. It’s nice that we have two options there.”
This is the first time that Koslosky can recall a horse having to be euthanized on the LCCC campus. Horses have come down with colic before on campus, but they had been taken off campus for treatment before passing away off campus. Colic is a disease that affects the horse’s stomach that can result in their guts twisting and killing the horse.
“No horses have passed away on campus in the 10 years that Lanae McDonald has been down there,” Koslosky said. “Tom Kelly hasn’t seen that either, so not in a very long time, which is why we felt it was worthy of a quarantine. This was very unique.”
The quarantine led to the Shawn Dubie Memorial rodeo that was scheduled for Oct. 12-14 being cancelled, along with homecoming events that were scheduled to go along with the rodeo. The rodeo has been rescheduled for the spring semester, and the official date will be released at a later time.
All horses on LCCC campus are owned by students or outside entities. No horse on campus is actually owned by the school, and in order to house a horse on campus, one must sign a board agreement with the school.
These board agreements are traditional housing documents that spell out the general standards for the horse, and details the procedures that will be taken if a horse gets sick on campus. Because of the board agreement, all students that are housing their horses on campus have been released of all liability in these situations, Koslosky said.
The agricultural department is currently re-examining their current board agreements to make sure they are still up to standard, and adding requirements to help prevent any future outbreaks.
“Students that go through the college have to attend an orientation for classes, but we don’t have them for horses,” Koslosky said. “We will be implementing an equine orientation. We teach basic biosecurity protocols; don’t share buckets, minimize nose to nose contact and don’t tie an outside horse to a stale were a horse is inside. We will be reiterating a lot of that stuff with those students.”