Nebraska’s top vet urges vigilance over EHV-1

The EHV-1 virus
The EHV-1 virus.

Nebraska’s top veterinarian has urged vigilance among horse owners, after two out-of-state horses later diagnosed with Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) were confirmed to have attended an event in the state.

Dr Dennis Hughes said all horse owners and organisers of events needed to be diligent, especially so with an increased number of EHV-1 cases across the US.

“No horses in Nebraska have been diagnosed with the disease at this time. I want to encourage horse owners to take precautions to help prevent this disease from affecting our horse population.”

Hughes said two horses – one from Wisconsin and one from Kansas – were recently diagnosed with EHV-1. The pair had been at a competition at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln in April.

Hughes said biosecurity measures included requiring individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse; disinfecting boots and changing clothes that come into contact with other horses; isolating horses returning from shows for two to three weeks; and, if possible, avoiding contact with other people’s horses.

“Owners who will be co-mingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses’ current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccinating their animals for EHV-1,” Hughes said.

The disease is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected horses, so Hughes encouraged operators of horse shows/exhibitions to review biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other.

Indirect contact includes the use of shared water and feed sources, as well as the use of shared equipment.

Hughes said he recommended horse owners planning to travel to shows or exhibitions contact the venue before transporting their horses to inquire about entrance requirements for the event.

EHV-1 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.

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