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Ten horses with EHV-1 in California

May 18, 2011


Ten horses in California are infected with the neurologic form of Equine Herpesvirus 1, state agriculture officials have confirmed.

Electron micrograph of EHV-1.

Death toll

As at 25.6.2011

New Mexico
About EHV

Authorities say all the cases to date are in horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, a fortnight ago.

The infected horses are in Kern, Placer, Stanislaus, Amador and Napa counties.

One horse in Kern County was euthanised after showing the severe neurologic signs often associated with the disease.

Officials say the horses were most likely exposed to the virus at the Ogden event.

Horses returning home following the event have carried the virus across several different states, with cases also confirmed in Washington and Colorado. One case has been confirmed in southern Alberta, in Canada.

Other states are monitoring horses that were at the event.

All California horses that have been in contact with an infected horse in the state and show signs of disease or test positive for EHV-1 will be placed under a state quarantine order.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture said the disease outbreak was evolving and it would continue to investigate cases and provide updates.

The department has contacted all 54 exhibitors from California who participated in the Utah event and asked them to isolate and monitor their horses for clinical signs of EHV-1.

A rectal temperature in excess of 102F commonly precedes other clinical signs, it said. Horse owners with potentially exposed horses are therefore urged to take temperatures on each horse twice a day.

If a temperature above 102F is detected, the horse's private veterinarian should be contacted immediately for evaluation and laboratory testing.

Equine Herpesvirus has the potential to spread quickly among horse populations. Horse-to-horse contact, aerosol transmission, and contaminated hands, equipment, tack and feed all play a role in disease spread.

Horses with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, may show any of the following signs: nasal discharge, lack of co-ordination, hind-end weakness, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone.

There is no specific treatment, but horses may be given intravenous fluids, anti-inflammatory drugs and other appropriate supportive treatment.

Immediate separation and isolation of identified suspect cases and implementation of appropriate biosecurity measures are key elements for control.

There is no equine vaccine that has a label claim for protection against the neurologic strain of this virus.



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