Horse lesions spark animal handling warning from expert

This week the WA Health and Agriculture and Food departments issued warnings to people handling horses affected with mouth lesions to wear disposable gloves and face masks, and wash their hands after contact.

A Health Department spokesman said it was not clear if there was a relationship between the lesions reported in horses and people, and testing had not yet revealed a cause for the lesions. A DAFWA spokeswoman said the department had not been contacted by concerned horse owners or handlers from Rockingham or Kwinana rural properties.

A spokeswoman from Larkhill Vets in Port Kennedy said a client had contacted the surgery on Wednesday to ask about sample collection for lesion testing, but the vet spokeswoman would not say where they were from.

Mr Arena said people having direct contact with animals should consider themselves at risk of contracting or spreading a potentially virulent disease.

He also backed the findings of Sydney University research that infection control practices of veterinarians were inadequate.

‘It should be common sense for anyone who visits any facility that houses animals such as zoos, circuses and petting zoos to wash their hands thoroughly, preferably before they leave the facility.

‘Waiting until you arrive home creates the potential to spread disease far beyond the source.’