Bio-Thermo chips available in UK for first time - Veterinary Practice
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Bio-Thermo chips available in UK for first time

Bio-Thermo microchips for horses, a breakthrough in screening for infectious diseases when linked to the EquiTrace app, are now available in UK for the first time

The link between a Bio-Thermo microchip, scanner and the EquiTrace app mean that a horse’s temperature can be taken in seconds, making it easy to take a horse’s temperature daily or multiple times a day. Infectious diseases such as equine herpes, strangles and influenza, damage the equine industry worth £300 billion globally by closing competition centres, racetracks, studs and yards, potentially causing life long limitations on individual horses and in severe cases, death.

California is experiencing a severe outbreak of EHV-1, equine herpes, affecting five counties so far, and this infectious disease has closed competition centres and yards and led to several horse deaths. Managing infectious disease benefits from the earliest possible identification of sickness in a horse, indicated by a temperature spike. Before now, daily temperature taking of horses was a challenge for yards and owners, because it is a time-consuming and people intensive activity.

Kinsale Stud, in the UK, started using Merck bio-thermo microchips as part of a world-wide trial in 2019, one of the first UK stud farms to test this technology. Kinsale Stud has already experienced the advantages of daily temperature scanning using bio-thermo chips and the EquiTrace app.

“The app/chip/scanner combination has saved at least two foals, by finding high fevers early before any other signs appeared,” says Rachel Kempster, Kinstale Stud, Yorkshire, UK.

Dr Kevin Corley of EquiTrace points out: “Foals are the population most likely to be affected by infectious disease, so temperature monitoring is critical. Using bio-thermo chip, a scanner and the app, foals can be scanned at the side of the mare by one member of staff with no need of restraint.

“Temperatures can be checked as animals are turned out or even in the field. Non-contact temperature taking reduces stress and also reduces disease spread. Taking temperatures usually means handling the foal’s tail, it can be difficult for staff to adequately wash and disinfect their hands between animals.

“In outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease as has happened in Kentucky last year it’s a huge advantage not to have to touch the foal.”

Dr Scott Bailey, resident veterinarian at Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, USA has taken on the Bio-Thermo microchips and EquiTrace app for temperature monitoring because of last year’s outbreak of diarrohea in foals on the farm. He agrees that when taking foal temperatures rectally, it is very difficult to avoid cross-contamination when that foal has diarrohea. With 150 to 170 foals born yearly on Claiborne Farm, with an average sale price of $150 thousand as yearlings, managing infectious disease effectively is vital.

He also points out that some infectious diseases in foals, that can lead to sepsis, can create career limiting lesions while others, in the worst case, can kill a foal.

On large farms like Claiborne taking temperatures takes time and people. The Bio-Thermo microchips reduce the time to take a horses temperature to just a few seconds making accurate temperature monitoring of every animal twice even three times daily a realistic prospect.

The United States Trotting Association are one of the most forward looking, innovative, equine sports authorities globally. Their President, T C Lane, initially brought the Merck Animal Health Bio-Thermo microchips to the USTA board, he quickly recognised that the ability to not only identify animals but instantly measure body temperature aligned perfectly with the goal to improve equine well-being.

Currently Merck Animal Health’s Bio-Thermo microchips have been placed in 40,000 standardbreds. The USTA were the first authority globally to see the tremendous advantages these chips bring to animal health, welfare and biosecurity.

The Bio-Thermo chips have been in use since 2019 and in 2022 all racing standardbreds in the USA will require a Bio-Thermo microchip.

Merck Bio-Thermo microchips are available from EquiTrace at a cost of £8 each or 10 euros, to find out more email A free trial of the EquiTrace app is available on Apple and Google app stores, leading to a paid-for subscription service with a low monthly subscription cost per horse. Several different scanners are available with a starting price of £285. The chips will work even if there is a prior microchip in the animal.

British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) vice-president Dave Rendle, says: “BEVA would urge every horse owner and yard owner to discuss infectious disease control with their vet and to have plans and protocols in place.’

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