Sanitation and cleanliness are necessary for any horse trailer, and most people do a great job of cleaning out manure and old hay. But not many people consider the unseen contaminants that horses can carry. These germs do require deeper cleaning to get rid of.
Viruses, bacteria, fungus and worm eggs are the so-called germs that can potentially remain in a trailer even after a good hosing; this increases the possibility of infection for other horses that enter the trailer.
Horses can often be carriers of diseases such as influenza, rhinopneumonitis, strangles, and salmonella without showing any signs. These horses can potentially contaminate your rig with microorganisms that could infect and cause disease in the next horse that enters the trailer. Nasal secretions, saliva, manure-especially diarrhea-,and hair follicles (fungi) can all carry these microorganisms.
Most viruses are airborne and don't survive long outside a horse's body unless there is sufficient moisture and some warmth. Most bacteria are the same, but there are some-the bacteria that cause pigeon fever and strangles- that can survive a very long time and are highly contagious. Fungi can survive just about anything and can stay in the environment for an extremely long time. Fungi spores are highly resistant and can stay around for years in cold, hot, dry or wet environments. Worm eggs are also very resistant, easily surviving cold and wet conditions-but they are susceptible when the humidity is low.
With all this said, cleaning a trailer can take on a whole new meaning and should be considered a routine maintenance task if you haul regularly, especially I you haul new horses. To disinfect your trailer start with the basics: clean out manure and old hay, then hose down the interior, starting at the front and moving back so that you are not dragging manure from the back to the front. Once you've hosed everything and the debris is gone, scrub the interior with Betadine scrub (not solution). A five-gallon bucket of warm water mixed with Betadine scrub works well for this task. Start with the front walls, move back to the door, and then scrub the floor starting at the front and moving back. Rinse well.
After a good cleaning with Betadine scrub, do a final disinfecting using bleach and water (1 once bleach per gallon water). The application process can be accomplished using a broom or a sprayer. Regardless of the method, don't rinse the bleach solution. Disinfectants work on contact over time-it takes seven minutes to fully kill most bacteria and viruses. Bleach works very well as a disinfectant, but I also recommend a product called Roccal-D (effective in barns and stalls, to).
This article printed here with permission from Horse Illustrated Dr. Posmikoff, Southern California July 2003 issue.