Send to

Choose Destination
BMC Vet Res. 2017 Jun 21;13(1):191. doi: 10.1186/s12917-017-1103-7.

Descriptive and network analyses of the equine contact network at an equestrian show in Ontario, Canada and implications for disease spread.

Author information

Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.



Identifying the contact structure within a population of horses attending a competition is an important element towards understanding the potential for the spread of equine pathogens as the horses subsequently travel from location to location. However, there is limited information in Ontario, Canada to quantify contact patterns of horses. The objective of this study was to describe the network of potential contacts associated with an equestrian show to determine how this network structure may influence potential disease transmission.


This was a descriptive study of horses attending an equestrian show in southern Ontario, Canada on July 6 and 7, 2014. Horse show participants completed a questionnaire about their horse, travel patterns, and infection control practices. Questionnaire responses were received from horse owners of 79.7% (55/69) of the horses attending the show. Owners reported that horses attending the show were vaccinated for diseases such as rabies, equine influenza, and equine herpesvirus. Owners demonstrated high compliance with most infection control practices by reporting reduced opportunities for direct and indirect contact while away from home. The two-mode undirected network consisted of 820 nodes (41 locations and 779 horses). Eight percent of nodes in the network represented horses attending the show, 87% of nodes represented horses not attending the show, but boarded at individual home facilities, and 5% represented locations. The median degree of a horse in the network was 33 (range: 1-105).


Developing disease management strategies without the explicit consideration of horses boarded at individual home facilities would underestimate the connectivity of horses in the population. The results of this study provides information that can be used by equestrian show organizers to configure event management in such a way that can limit the extent of potential disease spread.


Biosecurity; Equine; Infectious disease; Social network analysis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center