May 17, 2011 -- The editors of the Equine Network, which reaches 1.5 million horse owners a month through its extensive network of award-winning publications, services, and websites, are keeping their readers informed of the latest information regarding the outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1).
"The best thing a horse owner can do is get the facts," says EQUUS Editor Laurie Prinz. "In the wake of an outbreak, you'll hear all sorts of rumors and it's difficult to know what to believe. To help people sort fact from fiction we've posted our most recent articles about EHV on our web site, Equusmagazine.com."
In Colorado, where the Equine Network is based, there are already two confirmed cases of EHV-1, with six additional exposed horses showing clinical signs of the virus.
EQUUS Medical Editor Joe Bertone, DVM, says the risk of EHV is real but there is no need to panic. "The first thing to remember is that these outbreaks have happened for years and years but simply didn't get the press that they are getting nowadays," says Bertone. "People need to remain calm and follow good hygiene and management practices. The vast majority of horses will not have any issue with this disease."
? Both confirmed EHV-1 positive horses had recently attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah. The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is working with the Utah State Veterinarian to investigate the location.
? This disease investigation is ongoing and constantly being updated.
What Can Horse Owners Do to Protect Their Horses?
CDA encourages all horse owners who attended the Ogden, UT, event to notify their veterinarian and isolate and monitor their horses for clinical signs of the disease. Individual horse and barn biosecurity is very important. Some horses may not show signs of the disease but may still be a carrier, therefore all affected owners are encouraged to restrict movement of their horses.
The CDA also reminds horse owners to consider this disease risk before transporting horses, particularly to events such as shows or clinics where large groups of animals mingle. EHV-1 is transmitted between horses by nose-to-nose contact. It can also be spread by contaminated tack, equipment, and people's clothing. In addition, the virus can be spread through aerosols (airborne) for a limited distance. Continue to monitor our webpage for further information to aid in the decision making for transporting horses.
"This disease can have tremendous effects on the horse community and I encourage horse owners to be vigilant about the disease prevention methods they use within their premises," said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. "Colorado livestock owners have always been diligent about protecting the health of their animals and this is an important time to continue or implement proper biosecurity practices."
Biosecurity and biocontainment control practices can reduce the risk of exposure to this disease. Key points of a biosecurity plan include isolating new animals and those returning to the home premises, implementing infection-control practices for visitors and personnel and avoiding movement between locations. Any individual horse with clinical signs consistent with neurological EHV-1 infection should be removed immediately from the area and placed in a separate enclosure for isolation. It's also critical to call your veterinarian immediately.
For more information on equine biosecurity methods, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/HorseBioSecurity_final.pdf.
General Disease Information
EHV-1 is not transmissible to people, but it is a serious equine disease that can cause respiratory, neurologic disease and death. Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.
For the latest information as it develops please visit EquiSearch.