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Posted by Equestrian Victoria on 18/08/2016.

Werribee Park advice to horse owners | Colitis

Equestrian Victoria (EV) has been notified of two cases of colitis in horses that visited Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre (WPNEC) on 31 July.

The horses were reported to have contracted colitis on 7th and 13th August respectively, one of which tragically resulted in euthanasia of the horse. WPNEC management quarantined the areas as soon as it became aware of the issue and has since cleaned them and disinfected the hard surfaces in accordance with veterinary advice.

EV has been advised by a treating vet that it was unlikely that the illnesses were caused by the conditions at Werribee Park. However EV advises all equestrians to take their own precautions. As with humans, a small percentage of horses commonly carry viruses and bacteria, and as with humans, the health status of horses is not always known, so reasonable care should always be taken. Owners should, for example:

  • Monitor their horses’ temperature and respiratory rate
  • Monitor how much their horses are drinking and eating
  • Monitor the horse’s urine and manure quality and frequency
  • Don’t share water buckets or feed, including scrap hay left behind by others

Further information please contact Ingrid Green, EV Chair on 0488 398 053 or at [email protected].


Colitis, or inflammation of the colon, can be life threatening. One of the major symptoms is diarrhoea, from mild to severe. Once colon health is disrupted, its ability to carry out the normal functions of digestion and absorption are critically affected. Serious colitis causes severe diarrhoea, which accounts for huge water loss, and can cause rapid loss of fluid from the circulatory system. This leads to a vicious cycle of low blood pressure and reduced blood flow to vital organs and circulatory shock, which can quickly result in death if untreated.

Causes of colitis vary widely but are known to include infections, including those caused by a virus, parasite, and food poisoning due to bacteria.

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