Neurologic equine herpesvirus confirmed in several U.S. states

A number of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) cases have been reported in a few parts of the U.S., including Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Some of the reported cases have involved neurologic EHV-1, a slightly different version of the virus with different health consequences. This version of the virus has no vaccines, and can be spread rapidly from horse to horse.

At least four EHV-1 cases have been confirmed in Ohio. A few of these had raced at the same racetrack in Pennsylvania, which temporarily suspended races to mitigate the virus’s spread. Four cases were also confirmed in Wyoming. Three cases across Idaho have been confirmed, two of which are neurologic. Not all horses have been displaying symptoms, but have been confirmed to carry either the neurologic and non-neurologic virus.

Owners are being advised to watch out for signs of EHV-1 in their horses and observe strict biosecurity measures.

About the virus

Neurologic EHV-1 is very contagious virus that comes in two forms: one that is especially associated with failed pregnancies, and one associated with respiratory and neurological symptoms. Although the virus doesn’t affect humans, we can carry and spread it. It’s also commonly spread through the air and from animal-to-animal contact, but also via contaminated equipment and feed.

Symptoms of EHV-1 include loss of balance and coordination, fever, weakness of the back legs, lethargy, nasal discharge and frequent coughing. Once the virus is contracted, it can exist latent in the horse’s system for the horse’s entire life.

Utah State University lists several tips for reducing the spread of the virus:

  • Don’t share tack
  • Clean and disinfect your trailer after transporting horses that don’t belong to you
  • Minimize stress by ensuring proper food, water and shelter
  • Isolate new additions to your herd for at least 30 days
  • As soon as your horse exhibits any neurologic signs, contact your veterinarian

For more information on protecting against Equine Herpesvirus, check out this advice from Neogen’s Dr. Joe Lyman.

Neogen offers high quality products to help with many horse health needs, and to support horse owner in maintaining biosecurity in their stables.

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