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National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity User Guide for the Equine Sector
Section 1: Glossary

Access management:

Controlling the movement of horses, equipment, vehicles, and people on-and-off a farm or facility, as well as movement between different areas of a farm or facility to minimize the transmission of pathogens. It may include physical barriers (for example, fencing and gates that clearly indicate entry and exit points) and/or procedural measures (for example, hand washing, boot cleaning and disinfection).


Solid or liquid particles suspended in air that can be distributed over short distances.

Best practices:

For this document a best practice is a program, process, strategy, or activity that has been shown to be most effective in preventing and controlling disease. Best practices may have to be modified before implementation to accommodate a specific farm or facility and enhance practicality.


A set of practices to minimize the introduction of pathogens into a population of animals from an outside source.


A set of practices to minimize the release of pathogens from a population of animals in a particular location (for example, a farm or facility).


A set of practices to minimize the transmission of pathogens within a population of animals (for example, the spread of disease among horses within a farm or facility).


A set of practices used to minimize the transmission of pathogens and pests in animal and plant populations including their introduction (bio-exclusion), spread within the populations (bio-management), and release (bio-containment).

Biosecurity zone:

A defined area on a farm or facility established by natural or man-made physical barriers and/or the use of biosecurity procedures designed to reduce the transmission of pathogens (for example, a controlled access zone and/or restricted access zone).

Closed herd:

A population of animals that remains distinct by preventing the introduction of new animals from external sources, maintains their own breeding stock, and prevents direct contact with other herds of similar species.


Where horses from different locations or a different health status are brought together and exposed to each other, either directly or indirectly; may be short or long term. Some examples of commingling sites include boarding stables, auctions, summer pastures, staging sites, horse shows, rodeos, 4-H events, and horse clinics.

Controlled access point (CAP):

A designated and visually defined entry point to a horse farm or facility, a controlled access zone or restricted access zone to manage the traffic flow of people, horses, vehicles, equipment and materials.

Controlled access zone (CAZ):

A designated area that contains the land, buildings, equipment and infrastructure involved in the care and management of horses where access and movements are controlled. Entry is restricted and managed through a controlled access point. The controlled access zone is often the first zone that is entered on a farm or facility and frequently includes laneways, equipment, storage sheds, and riding arenas, although some of these may be in the restricted access zone in other facilities. It usually excludes the house and office space of the farm owner and/or manager. The controlled access zone may include pastures and barns that horses are not currently occupying. A controlled access zone has its own specific biosecurity protocol and often encompasses the restricted access zone(s).


Any person who has control of horses and is responsible for their care, whether on a short-term or long-term basis. This may include owners, stable owners and staff, volunteers, clients, service providers and family members.


A change from the normal state. A deviation or disruption in the structure or function of a tissue, organ or part of a living animal's body.


The process that is used to inactivate, decrease or eliminate pathogens from a surface or object.

Direct contact:

Close physical contact between animals (for example, nose to nose, social interaction or breeding).

Emerging disease:

A new infection resulting from the evolution or change of an existing pathogen or parasite resulting in a change of host range, vector, pathogenicity or strain; or the occurrence of a previously unrecognized infection or disease.

Endemic disease:

The continued presence of a disease in a specific population or area usually at the same level - often a low level. In animals, it is sometimes referred to as enzootic disease.


An organized gathering of horses from two or more farms or facilities for a set amount of time. A horse event or activity is defined as any market, sales or auction, fair, parade, race, horse show, meeting, recreational activity, demonstration or clinic, rodeo, competition, or any other horse gathering.

Foreign animal disease:

An existing or emerging animal disease that poses a severe threat to animal health, the economy, and/or human health that is not usually present in the country.


A defined area of land and all associated buildings used primarily for the short-term care and maintenance of horses for commercial purposes and events where commingling is common (for example, competition grounds, race tracks and auction markets).


A defined area of land and all associated buildings used primarily for the long-term care and maintenance of horses (for example, boarding stables, breeding farms and riding centres).

Federal reportable disease:

Refers to diseases in federal and/or provincial acts and regulations. Federally reportable diseases are outlined in the Health of Animals Act and Reportable Diseases Regulations and are usually of significant importance to human or animal health or to the Canadian economy. Animal owners, veterinarians and laboratories are required to immediately report the presence of an animal that is contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with one of these diseases to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency district veterinarian. Control or eradication measures may be applied immediately. A list of federally reportable diseases is available on the CFIA website.


Any inanimate object or substance, such as clothing, footwear, equipment, tack, water or feed that mechanically transmits a pathogen from one individual to another.

Health status:

Current state of health of the animal or herd, including both its condition and the presence of pathogens in the animal or herd. Information used to establish the health status includes the disease history and the results of any diagnostic testing, herd health management practices, vaccination and deworming protocols in sufficient detail to determine compatibility with the resident herd, and housing and movement detail sufficient to identify any potential recent disease exposure.


Refers to all domestic equine species, namely horses, ponies, miniature horses, donkeys, mules and hinnies.

Immediately notifiable disease:

In general, immediately notifiable diseases are diseases exotic to Canada for which there are no control or eradication programs and are to be reported immediately to a specific government agency.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency can undertake control measures for such diseases when notified of their presence in Canada. This category also includes some rare indigenous diseases. A herd or flock of origin must be certified as being free from these diseases in order to meet import requirements of trading partners. Some provincial ministries may require notification for surveillance and/or control of certain immediately notifiable diseases.

Indirect contact:

Refers to contact with a pathogen without directly coming into contact with the source (for example, aerosol or contaminated fomites).


The invasion and multiplication or reproduction of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the tissues of a living animal.

Infectious disease:

Disease caused by pathogens (for example, parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi or prions).

Medical waste:

Waste generated by administration of treatments (for example, needles, syringes, expired medications, and disposable materials used in the treatment of horses).

Mode of transmission:

The method whereby pathogens are transmitted from one animal or place to another. An example of direct transmission is nose-to-nose contact. Examples of indirect transmission may include contact with contaminated bodily fluids, vectors or fomites.


This refers to the systematic observation and recording of clinical signs that reflect the health parameters of the horse (for example, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, for mental status [responsive and alert], for gait and posture [normal, coordinated, not lame], for body condition [thin, normal, obese]). The level of monitoring is dependent on the health status of the horse.


A measure of the number of deaths in a population.

Normal carrier or subclinical carrier:

A horse that displays no signs of sickness but is harbouring a pathogen.


The ability or capacity of a pathogen to cause disease in a living organism.


Bacteria (including mycoplasma), viruses, fungi, parasites and other microorganisms that can cause disease.

Peer group:

Horses of similar age (for example, yearlings), use (for example, broodmares and school horses), or health status (for example, same preventive health program).

Personal protective equipment (PPE):

Refers to specialized clothing and equipment worn by an individual to provide a protective barrier against exposure and injury from hazards. It can be used to protect against pathogens, chemicals (disinfectants and medications) and physical hazards (from needles or bites), however the specifications of the equipment are different for each hazard. For infectious diseases, personal protective equipment includes coveralls, boots, boot covers, gloves, and in some instances, face shields and respirators that protect skin, mucous membranes and airways from pathogens. Personal protective equipment also reduces the transmission of pathogens to other horses from contaminated clothing, equipment and dirty hands.


Includes insects, spiders, ticks, rodents, birds and other animals that pose a nuisance to horses.

Physical barriers:

The use of physical structures and items to minimize exposure to pathogens. This includes the use of fences and gates to manage access and traffic flow and solid pen partitions to minimize contact between horses. It also includes the use of protective clothing, boots and gloves that provide a barrier to contamination and/or infection of a person.

Procedural measures:

The use of processes such as hand washing, cleaning and disinfection to minimize the transmission of pathogens, procedures for assessing the health status of new horses and vaccination to protect horse health.

Provincial reportable/notifiable diseases:

Some provincial agriculture departments require reporting of diseases outlined in their provincial animal disease legislation. For additional information, contact the respective provincial agriculture department.

Restricted access zone (RAZ):

A designated area where horses commonly reside (are stabled, housed, pastured) and where access by people, equipment and materials is further restricted. The zone(s) include the pens, barns, and pastures, as well as separation areas used for new, visiting and sick horses. The layout and management practices of individual farms and facilities will determine whether manure storage and other production infrastructure directly involved in animal care and maintenance should be included within the restricted access zone.


The likelihood of an unfavorable event occurring and affecting health.

Examples of high and low risk

  1. Event
    1. High-risk event - A horse auction/sale poses a high risk to horse health when there are no disease prevention requirements and protocols in place, and there are a high number of horses from multiple locations commingling. 
    2. Low-risk event - An event such as the Pan-Am equine games poses a low risk to horse health where high level, healthy equine athletes are subject to strict biosecurity protocols, including testing and vaccination requirements prior to arrival, and regular monitoring by specially appointed equine veterinarians.
  2. Horses - Can pose a risk for spreading disease and/or be at risk of acquiring disease.
    1. Higher risk or high-risk horse for transmitting disease: Horses that are a higher risk for harbouring and transmitting pathogens. This includes horses that are: visibly sick (clinical infection), infected but not showing signs of sickness (subclinical infection), known to have been exposed to sick horses, and those that have recently recovered from sickness.
    2. Higher risk or high risk of becoming infected or sick - A young horse which has little immunity to disease and is at a higher risk of becoming infected or sick. The lack of immunity may result from not being vaccinated, being improperly vaccinated, and/or having little previous exposure to small numbers of pathogens from other horses (which may occur when raised in a closed herd). Any horse that is debilitated, stressed, malnourished, dehydrated, very young, very old, one with a long-standing or underlying health issue would be at high risk. If these horses are then exposed to a high-risk event where there is exposure to many other horses of varying health status, they may become sick.
    3. Lower risk or low-risk horse for transmitting disease or becoming infected or sick - Horses that are healthy, well vaccinated, well-nourished and managed under a herd health program and rarely travel or are rarely exposed to horses of different health status are a low risk or a lower risk for transmitting disease or becoming infected or sick when exposed to pathogens.

A process that reduces the number of pathogens without completely eliminating all microbial forms on a surface.


Using physical barriers or distance to prevent direct contact between horses. Separation is a management tool to minimize the risk of introduction and spread of disease. Other terminology such as isolation and quarantine is commonly used for specific purposes of separation

  • Quarantine: A process of separating an animal(s) and restricting movement of the animal; it can be considered a "state of enforced isolation". Frequently, it is a regulatory approach to separate horses to establish and maintain a desired health status.
  • Isolation: The process of separating animals that are sick, suspected to be sick, or of an unknown or lesser health status from healthy animals. The period of separation ends when animals have recovered, or been determined to be healthy, or aligned with the health status of the herd. Separation includes measures to prevent direct contact (nose-to-nose) and indirect contact (shared equipment) between isolated animals and the remainder of the herd.

Common medical items including needles, scalpels, scissors, staples, and other objects capable of puncturing or cutting skin.

Sharps container:

A container used to safely store used needles and other sharps for disposal. Only "approved" sharps containers should be used, as they are designed to prevent injuries by being puncture resistant and to prevent spillage or removal of disposed items.


Transmission of an infectious agent from an animal to another animal or to the environment; can occur in the absence of clinical signs.

Standard operating procedure (SOP):

A defined and documented procedure to be followed, detailing the steps to be taken to meet an objective. This includes any formal process that a custodian uses to define how they manage their operations on a day to day basis. The protocol may be formally documented or a non-documented process that is strictly followed. The intent is to focus on the process rather than the documentation.

Susceptible host:

A person or animal who lacks the immunity or ability to resist the invasion of pathogens which then multiply or reproduce resulting in infection.


An organism such as a mosquito, fly, flea, tick, rodent, animal or person that transmits pathogens from an infected host (a horse) to another animal. A biological vector is one in which the pathogen develops or multiplies in the vector's body before becoming infective to the recipient animal. A mechanical vector is one which transmits an infective organism from one host to another but which is not essential to the life cycle of the pathogen.


All undomesticated animals (fauna) living freely in their natural habitat. Wildlife may come into occasional inadvertent contact with domestic horses on their farm or facility.

Zoonotic disease:

A disease caused by pathogens that can occur in both animals and humans (for example, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] and Salmonella sp.).

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