Preventive measures are of the utmost importance in relation to all diseases. They have a special value when directed against infective disorders on account of the peculiarity which those maladies possess of extending the area of their prevalence, unless severe restrictions are imposed upon the movement of diseased or infected animals, and even of persons or substances which have been in contact with them.
Prevention naturally occupies the first place in dealing with infective diseases; its immediate object being to oppose, as far as possible, their introduction into a country or a district.
The measures of suppression can only be employed when the disease has been introduced, and it becomes necessary to check its progress. Preventive measures in relation to the infective diseases of the horse must necessarily be limited in the majority of cases to individual action, as all the maladies which have been named already exist in the country, and every purchaser of a horse incurs a certain amount of risk of introducing an infected animal into his stables. Glanders appears to be the only affection which could be consistently dealt with by any restrictive enactments against the entrance of animals from those countries in which the disease is known to exist. The horse-owner may, however, protect himself by the exercise of care in the selection of fresh animals, and further, by enforcing a certain period of quarantine on his own premises, for the purpose of satisfying himself that the animal is free from the more common infective diseases, such as those which belong to the catarrhal group - influenza and strangles, for example. It is also possible for him to ensure perfect cleanliness and thorough disinfection, and he can avoid purchasing second - hand harness, clothing, brushes, buckets, or any apparatus used about the stable; or at least, in the event of such things being introduced, it is not difficult to have them properly disinfected. It is also important for the horse-owner to recognize the added risk which horses incur of contracting disease when they are affected with cracked heels, abrasions of the lips, and generally any wound on the surface which may give access to the infective matter of glanders, strangles, tetanus, and other infectious diseases.
Away from home, the horse is exposed to fresh dangers which can hardly be averted. It may be true that the risks associated with public stables and water-troughs are exaggerated, but there can be no doubt that some risk has to be faced every time advantage is taken of such convenient arrangements.
In respect to horse-boxes on railways, complaints have been loud and deep that no provisions have been made for proper cleansing and disinfection, and that in consequence a sound horse may be put into one from which a diseased horse has just been taken. This may be done, but only in defiance of the law which has been in operation for many years past, and is generally enforced on all the railways in the country. The order provides that the floors of horse-boxes shall be thoroughly swept and scraped, as also all other parts with which the droppings of any horse, ass, or mule have come in contact. The sides of the horse-box and all other parts thereof with which the head or any discharge from the mouth or nostrils of any horse, ass, or mule has come in contact shall be thoroughly washed with water by means of a sponge, brush, or other instrument.
All the above-named steps are to be taken on every occasion after a horse, ass, or mule is taken out of a horse-box and before any other horse, ass, or mule, or any animal is placed therein.
That the provisions for cleansing and disinfecting horse-boxes are not universally appreciated may be gathered from the circumstance that complaints have been made by hunting-men of the use of water in cleansing horse-boxes on the ground that when a horse comes in from a run he wants a dry, warm box rather than a damp one, which being admitted, it nevertheless follows that proper cleansing is not possible without the free use of water.