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Six more Colorado horses with EHV-1 symptoms

May 17, 2011

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Case of EHV-1 in southern Alberta

Six more horses in Colorado are showing symptoms of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1) as the outbreak looks ever more threatening.

Electron micrograph of EHV-1.

Death toll

As at 25.6.2011

New Mexico
About EHV

Two Colorado horses were confirmed with the virus in the last week, both having attended the the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah.

However, the state's agriculture department confirmed today that six additional exposed horses are showing clinical signs of EVH-1.

Currently, horses in four counties - Boulder, Larimer, Mesa, and Weld - are being investigated for the disease and are under hold or quarantine orders. One horse which tested positive for EHV-1 was euthanized after showing severe neurological signs associated with the disease.

A second horse was euthanized with similar symptoms but test results have not been confirmed at this point.

The others are currently under treatment by veterinarians and in biosecure locations, agriculture officials confirmed.

One case has also been confirmed in Washington, in a horse admitted to the Washington State University veterinary teaching hospital. The horse was admitted for observation in relation to to other issues, but developed a fever and was later found to have attended the Utah event.

Other states are assessing and monitoring the situation, as horses who attended the championship returned to several states after competition.

At the weekend, a major cutting horse show to be run in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was cancelled because of the outbreak.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture said it was working with the Utah State Veterinarian to investigate the location of the Ogden championships "as a point of interest for the infection".

Horse owners who took animals to Ogden are being urged to notify their veterinarian and isolate and monitor their horses for clinical signs of the disease.

The department says individual horse and barn biosecurity is important, as some horses may not show signs of the disease but may still be a carrier. Those owners are also encouraged to restrict movement of their horses.

"This disease can have tremendous affects on the horse community and I encourage horse owners to be vigilant about the disease prevention methods they use within their premises," said Colorado 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."

The department urged horse owners to consider the disease risk before transporting horses.

EVH-1 can transfer from nose-to-nose contact. It can also be spread by contaminated tack, equipment, and people's clothing. In addition, the virus can be spread on the air for a limited distance.

EHV-1 can cause respiratory and neurologic disease and death in horses.

Symptoms include fever, decreased co-ordination, 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.

Meanwhile, the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital has moved to restrict equine and camelid client movement to the hospital for appointments.

Non-emergency cases are being rescheduled as a precaution.

Colorado state veterinarian Dr Keith Roehr
"This precaution is designed to prevent horses from multiple locations from coming into contact with each other, based on concerns about the current widespread outbreak," it said in a statement.

It said the hospital's main equine service area in the veterinary hospital is not housing any equine cases suspected to have been exposed to equine herpesvirus and the restrictions were a precaution to protect the facility and client horses.

"Any horses that may have been exposed to the virus will be observed and treated in a separate isolation unit that is not connected to the main hospital, and veterinarians are screening all emergency cases carefully.

"Any horse with evidence of any contagious disease is routinely cared for in a separate isolation facility. As an added precaution, the main equine service area also has implemented high levels of biosafety practices to protect the grounds and client horses."

The hospital urged horse owners to avoid transporting their horses at this time.



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