AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL — MAY 17, 2012 — Over the last several days there has been an increase in Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) disease notifications through various online articles and social media. In an effort to clarify any confusion or misunderstanding, the AHC has complied and summarized the events surrounding the two different EHV-1 incidents in Tennessee and Colorado.
The AHC would like to direct horse owners to the following state departments of agriculture and credible state, federal, and industry resources for future EHV-1 alerts and information on sound management practices.
On May 11th, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) confirmed a horse tested positive for EHV-1 in Douglas County, Colorado. Upon diagnosis, the CDA placed that facility in Colorado under quarantine, and the EHV-1 positive horse had to be euthanized after the disease progressed into a severe neurologic stage.
State animal health officials determined the positive EHV-1 horse was recently transported to Colorado from Iowa by a private owner. Iowa agriculture officials have now quarantined the Iowa ranch, where the euthanized horse originated, and the other horses on that ranch in Iowa are under quarantine and are being monitored closely for any signs of disease or elevated temperature. No other horses have shown signs of disease at this point
On May 9th, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) received reports of suspected cases of EHV-1 infection in horses that participated in a trail ride in Tennessee. TDA has confirmed the neurological form of EHV-1 in one case.
Thus far, the TDA has received a total of nine reports of suspected or confirmed cases of EHV-1 in Tennessee horses that participated in (or were exposed to horses that participated in) the Bucksnort Trail Ride held April 23-30 in Humphreys County, TN. This trail ride event drew approximately 100 horses from multiple states.
TDA animal health officials are working with event organizers, neighboring state veterinarians and private veterinarians to identify other horses that may have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms. TDA is monitoring the horses involved and is restricting the movement of horses that attended the trail ride event on a case-by-case basis.
As a precaution, TDA recommends that horse owners who participated in the Bucksnort event work with their veterinarian to restrict movement and to monitor their horses, and the TDA also recommends that isolation and monitoring continue for 28 days if any clinical signs of disease are observed. Veterinarians should report suspected neurological cases of EHV-1 to the State Veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120.
Kentucky & Mississippi Horses Participating in TN Trail Ride
Two horses from Mississippi and eight horses from Kentucky that participated in the Bucksnort Trail Ride in TN have been confirmed with EHV-1. Several other horses from KY and MS have shown suspected cases of EHV-1. Three of the horses in MS have died or been euthanized and three are ill with the neurological disease.
The Kentucky and Mississippi State Veterinarians have identified and isolated all known ill or susceptible horses, which are being treated by their attending veterinarians.
Recommendations for Horse Owners Who Attended the Bucksnort Trail Ride
The TDA recommends that if you participated in this event, as a precaution, you should not move your horse from your premises for 21 days after potential exposure which occurred April 23 – 30.
Isolate and monitor your horse’s health for 7 to 10 days by obtaining a rectal temperature twice daily during this time. Contact your veterinarian if your horse’s temperature exceeds 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or if other clinical symptoms develop.
Consult your veterinarian about preventative health measures such as vaccinations.
Equine Herpes Virus is highly contagious among horses but poses no threat to humans. The symptoms in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness, dribbling of urine and diminished tail tone.
The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough), horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated. The virus can cause aborted foals and can be fatal in some cases. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form).
EHM is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence. Should a horse with potential EHV-1 exposure display any of the aforementioned clinical signs, a veterinarian should be called to obtain samples and test for the disease.
Please contact the AHC with any questions.
USDA-APHIS website – EHV information sheets, color brochures, historical information, a review of disease mitigation strategies, and an EHV-1 guidance document “Recommendations for Horses Exposed to EHV-1 or EHM” can be found on the USDA-APHIS website .
AAEP website – General EHV resources through the American Association of Equine Practitioners