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Any scientists here or infectious disease specialists?

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  • Any scientists here or infectious disease specialists?

    Our local horse community is under fire by a Board of Health member who has an agenda. It's a long story which I outlined in this thread:
    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...oard+of+health

    We are one of two towns in MA that are zoned Residential/Agricultural. We have a Right To Farm bylaw and we have a solid set of stable regs and an annual barn inspection in place that has worked well for twenty years. There have been no documented horse related health complaints to either the Animal Inspector or the BoH, but the BoH tried to use the excuse that they had received, 'Very many' documented complaints last June when they instituted a review of our stable regs. When horse owners asked for clarification during the June BoH meeting, they were threatened with arrest and two members of the Board walked out of the meeting. The Chaif of the Board of health was captured on film after the meeting laughing and gloating to a new BoH member, telling him that his favorite reaction when he wants to stop discussion is to walk out of a meeting and threaten to call the police or hold up a sign that says, 'Baloney'. In January, a Boh member finally admitted when asked to qualify the June statement about 'Very many' documented complaints and she finally admitted there were 'None."

    The Chair of the BoH published a Q & A on our town website and in local newspapers filled with lies, and fear mongering assertions about horses and disease which can be viewed here:

    http://www.wickedlocal.com/boxford/a...-town-Web-site

    He was forced to withdraw it from our town website and wrote an apology, but at the last BoH meeting, he told the audience he stands behind the document.

    We asked a well respected veterinarian to speak at the BoH meeting and did an amazing job refuting many of the allegations the Chair of the BoH has made linking horses to obscure diseases, but the BoH Chair is set on his course. When a horse owner received permission to rebut his Q & A publicity release at a recent BoH meeting, the Chair became angry and shouted over her that he would not allow that and threatened to have everyone arrested if she continued to speak. He is a volatile yeller who calls horse owners 'silly', 'hysterical,' and 'dramatic' when they differ with his opinions.

    Does anyone here at COTH have information or studies available to add to our arsenal of information to rebut this man's assertions that horses can kill people with a strain of e coli and can hurt children with nitrites and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their urine?

    At the last meeting, this man's cohort on the BoH actually told the public that she fears the ammonia smell from horse manure will get into the wind and make local people sick.

    Thank you in advance for anyone who might be able to point me in the direction of some studies or research to help us.
    Last edited by chai; Mar. 13, 2009, 09:53 AM.

  • #2
    I can't say anything from a scientific point of view but I can offer some suggestions, you may have already them.

    Contact your local farm bureau, they might be able to put you in touch with someone who knows exactly what you are up against. Also your local Cooperative Extension office almost always has a huge contact list of respected professionals that would be willing to look at what you have going on. Do you have a university nearby (maybe within a 100 miles) that has a environmental science, ecology or ag division? They LOVE things like this!

    Barring those...I would be sure to find an attorney that deals with land use issues (preferably one that specializes in agriculture...co-op ext or FB could help you there too).
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

    Comment


    • #3
      There is a growing body of evidence in the allergy literature suggesting that if pregnant women and infants are exposed to farm animals, their children are much less likely to have asthma and allergies. Exposure to dogs (but not cats) also has a positive effect, although not as much as farm animals. Some would argue that the incredible increase in asthma in this country is linked to lack of exposure to microbes and to animals. This "hygiene hypothesis" is getting more study. Exposure to daycare and the illnesses in daycare may increase the risk of asthma. Only certain microbes will do.

      Horses can carry salmonella and other organisms. However, I am not aware of any outbreaks due to horses. Salmonella is usually related to contaminated food (indluding undercooked chicken). E Coli is more often related to food that is contaminated by cattle feces.

      Google all of this and you should find some good studies.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds to me like another one of those cases where communication of Risk has gone bonkers. You need proper professional advise on Risk Assessment and which takes into account probability and possibility and consequential effect.

        In other words someone that can say using science "get a grip and get a perspective"

        Here you'd be able to call on DEFRA (government body that regulates and manages all matters to do with Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Horse Society.

        If it's really problematic then you need a lobbying or PR management consultant that can counteract the nonsense with "good news" stories about the benefits of horses and equestrian sports and counteract with other stuff to detract e.g. "Overstating Risk stories" "being a lazy couch potato can kill you"

        I'd be throwing some stories about how horses are used to enhance human health!

        You must have equivalents there.

        This might be a place to start:

        http://www.bhs.org.uk/DocFrame/DocView.asp?id=2473

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you, everyone, and Thomas, thank you for the suggestion about a Risk Assessment specialist. We have a wonderful group of horse people who have worked very hard on this, but I posted here hoping for links or fresh ideas and that is a great one.
          We have the founder of a TR Center who has kindly offered to speak about the health benefits of horses, and we have found studies that show that horses are actually less of a health threat than dogs or pet turtles, but we don't want to put any other animals on his radar screen!
          Thanks so much for the suggestions and support. This is an issue that will be cropping up more and more as farm towns become more populated.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's not about putting animals on the radar. It's about mobilising support.

            If dog and cat and turtle owners see that there's some fruit loop overstating risk and understating benefit and that they might be falling in to the mire too, then you mobilise more support.

            I'd personally want to know exactly what is this fruit loop doing though and where?

            I read your other posting via the link and I'm taking it that someone complained but it had no substance so nothing was done. So in other words no problem has actually been identified or defined. Is that right?

            Because if so then I'd advise:

            The other way to deal with just a little "noise" and "hot air" is to ignore it.

            Sometimes if you respond, it just escalates and keeps it high profile.

            Ignore it and the noise will be akin to one of my cows pissing on a flat rock.

            Comment


            • #7
              Chai, where are you in Massachusetts? I have a friend there who is not only a Risk Assessment consultant, but also a horsewoman. PM me if you'd like to get in touch with her.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not an ag specialist but have a background in biochemistry and mo bio. If you need access to primary literature (ie published refereed articles in journals) I can get them for you and help you through them. Abstracts can be viewed on PubMed - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ - just plug in your terms (ie equine + urine + ammonia, or whatever) and send me the links to the references.

                This guy is a whackjob, and I don't mean that in a good way.
                Last edited by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"; Mar. 13, 2009, 01:24 PM.
                www.specialhorses.org
                a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                Comment


                • #9
                  Aside from contacting the Farm Bureau, the horse woenrs in town need to seriously think about recruiting someone from your ranks to run for the next vacancy on the BoH.

                  You can fight this sort of nonsense better if you are sitting in one of those chairs.
                  "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                  ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I lived on a farm that was harassed by the conservation commission in Massachusetts. One thing that helps is to hire a good lawyer and sue the town for whatever the lawyer can come up with, including legal fees and try and reason with the town manager or administrator on how unprofessional the BoH is being. Sometimes the threat of the expense of defending a lawsuit will help convince the Town admin to help your cause.

                    I can put you in touch with the people that had the battle with their town. The ConCom was used to harass them becausey would not sell a neighbor some of their land (he was on the ConCom. Even though you are dealing with the BoH, it isn' too different in that it sounds like you ae being harassed by someon one the board who is able to manupilate ther est of the board?

                    email shardenbrook@yahoo.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This site agency and/or site and publication may be helpful - not in your area but lots of information
                      http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...bmp/manure.htm
                      * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
                      Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
                      NO! What was the question?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chai View Post
                        Does anyone here at COTH have information or studies available to add to our arsenal of information to rebut this man's assertions that horses can kill people with a strain of e coli and can hurt children with nitrites and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their urine?

                        At the last meeting, this man's cohort on the BoH actually told the public that she fears the ammonia smell from horse manure will get into the wind and make local people sick.
                        Fresh urine should be sterile, if not then there is an infection that needs treatment.

                        My SO works in food-borne illness. Cattle are the primary animals implicated in contamination. There has to be a way for manure to get onto produce or direct contact with feces of an infected animal. Heres a summary of e-coli in animals - 1 case has been linked of a person working with a SICK horse - 2 cases from dogs - so I guess they should ban dogs too http://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/pbs/zoono...T104index.html

                        Horses (and cats, dogs etc) on cattle farms that drink from the same source or are contaiminated from manure have shown to contract e-coli. Again showing the primary source is from cattle.

                        You could also contact CDC in Atlanta for more info/lit cites

                        As for the nitrates, there is alot of info supporting their argument. Most of the lit is geared to feedlots and large animal housing operations, but here is a sample: Livestock facilities may pose the greatest risk for nitrate contamination and must be designed to convey runoff away from the well. Lots must be cleaned regularly and wastes applied to cropland at agronomic rates. Removal of accumulated organic waste and planting and harvesting crops is essential to minimize nitrate leaching.
                        Last edited by horsetales; Mar. 13, 2009, 02:31 PM.
                        Epona Farm
                        Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Oh come now, it is traditional for petty town leaders in small towns in Massachusetts to turn against anything that empowers women and girls... Why don't you turn Reverend Mather's attention to a real health threat - like birds. Avian flu - West Nile virus, both are carried by migratory birds - they could kill us all! We must get rid of the birds! Not just those wild birds - the diseases could pool in chickens and pet exotic birds. And then there are children - why those little disease incubators - are even of the same species as us! They can carry all sorts of diseases that don't even need to re-adjust their attack when they jump to us - yes, we must get rid of all the children!

                          Seriously, have you looked into where Reverend Mather's phobia is coming from? Why is he going after horses? Ex-fiance who dumped him when he insisted she had to sell her horse? Go down to your local library, have a nice long chat with the reference librarian, and see what you can dig up on Reverend Mather that the local newspaper needs to know all about two weeks before the next election.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Lol, Kiljoy, will you come to our next Board of Health meeting? We could use a little levity! But bring your lawyer, because if you speak too loudly, don't have a peer reviewed document with ten pages of bibliography, catch the Chair in a lie or have the temerity to voice disagreement with his PhD-laden opinions, you might be facing arrest!

                            Honestly, I have never seen a man more obsessed with germs, feces and manure.
                            Last edited by chai; Mar. 14, 2009, 01:30 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chai View Post
                              Honestly, I have never seen a man more obsessed with germs, feces and manure.
                              That will be because he's full of sh**

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                How about checking with the CDC to see if this really is a health threat. Any documenting cases in that state, even country? You may also want to seach Pubmed, etc.

                                Also, I think your property may need a consultation with an environmental scientist. If there are any valid concerns you will know how to deal with it.

                                Sounds like someone spreading fear for their own political agenda.

                                And don't get me started on the WNV thingbirds carry and spread the disease. We vaccinate our horses against it. Hello - noni-ssue. If anyone has an issue with that contact Dr. Mather (Center for Vector-Borne Diseases, URI) as a consultant.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                                  That will be because he's full of sh**
                                  danged Thomas, just tell it like it is! what a great laugh out loud but so true.

                                  Is this person elected or appointed? I am not familiar with politicos up north, but if elected, could you not do a recall, or support some other person who has a brain?

                                  I would also point out this:

                                  1. Horse owners are generally very good contributors to the local ECONOMY..they buy stuff, lots of stuff from fertilizer to lumber, from diesel for tractors and trucks to keeping the local feed store going.

                                  2. I would enlist the aid of the ongoing concerns that are recipients of such horsey wealth..
                                  the local feed stores, the truck and trailer places, the fencing people, the fertilizer folks, the local vets and farriers, etc.

                                  3. Taxes..Lord have mercy are farms taxed..get rid of the horses..get rid of the farms, get rid of the taxes..I'd have a chat about that as well. No gubbermint wants to lose a tax of any sort..

                                  4. Media..this guy sounds like a looney tune..can you get the media involved in his incredible "we are all going to die" sessions?

                                  Trust me, buy stock in Reynolds Wrap, sounds like this guy needs a LOT of tin foil.

                                  Also as far as nitrates, aren't nitrates GOOD for the soil? Spreading manure on pastures is AGE OLD good pasture management and part of ORGANIC farming. I would think it would be a problem only if farms did not spread or compost manure or pushed it off into creeks, but normally spread composted manure or plain old manure spread on fields is GOOD for fields.

                                  http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/horsecompost.htm

                                  http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/Manure_horse.htm

                                  Particularly good study: http://mcstoppp.org/acrobat/Horse%20...0Mangement.PDF

                                  Don't know if this will help, but I try.
                                  Last edited by sidepasser; Mar. 14, 2009, 07:14 PM. Reason: cause I can't spell, it's raining and I have been giving the spa treatment to an old horse..

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by sidepasser View Post
                                    3. Taxes..Lord have mercy are farms taxed..get rid of the horses..get rid of the farms, get rid of the taxes..I'd have a chat about that as well. No gubbermint wants to lose a tax of any sort..
                                    But I guarantee the local government would make more taxes on 400 homes sitting on 100 acres than they would make on one 100 acre farm. If it is developed, the city/county makes more money.

                                    See if the county has established any "projected" building plans for that area. You never know....maybe they are thinking shopping mall, expressway, McMansions, etc. for the property and this is their way of trying to force the farm owner to sell so the county gets financial gain.
                                    Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                                    Bernard M. Baruch

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Amwrider View Post
                                      But I guarantee the local government would make more taxes on 400 homes sitting on 100 acres than they would make on one 100 acre farm. If it is developed, the city/county makes more money.
                                      Maybe yes, maybe no.
                                      My town bought a tract of land that was a former farm several years back (scooped it out from under Toll Bros.!) because the analysis showed it would cost the town more to provide services than the taxes on the houses would produce.
                                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Ummm ..yes! I repeat this post I made in response to the first thread on this issue by chai

                                        'Quite a number of years back (20'ish) in my area this type of issue came up against a town council - essentially 'developers' trying to turn a horsey area into high end subdivisions. Amongst the local horse people was a very clever business guy. He polled all the businesses in the township that were remotely horse related - including..farriers, vets, fence & barn builders, horse transport, tack shops, etc. etc. as well as part time/full time stable help...any business at all related to the equine industry. The 'tax base' relative to the horse industry totally trumped the 'tax base' relative to a few high end residences. The town council did the math and blew off the developers in one. Especially in this economic climate, I would think that even small viable businesses supported by the equine industry are more attractive to local politicians than more job losses. If there are, indeed, public health issues associated with the horse industry in your area, you can make it attractive to the local government to fix those problems rather than kill off a viable tax base'

                                        if this guy is a developer - or a front man for developers - it is the best way to fight back.
                                        If he is really just a nut about sh&t...I mean manure...then the best defense is to propose realistic measures on how to contain environmental contamination. Doing that is in everybodies best interest anyway.
                                        Combining the two is a win win.
                                        * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
                                        Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
                                        NO! What was the question?

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