2014 EHV-1 Symptoms and Outbreak Locations
 By Saferaphus   •   24th Apr 2014   •   3,068 views   •   0 comments
2014 EHV-1 Symptoms and Outbreak Locations

Another disease has made the lives of horse owners and their horses miserable in recent weeks. An outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus began at the beginning of March, and horses in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa were affected, with three requiring euthanasia. This week, a horse in Virginia was euthanized after the EHV-1 progressed to EHM, or Equine Herpesvirus Myeloenphalopathy. Outbreaks in individual horses and small groups have also been reported in California, Oregon, Colorado, North Dakota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The concern of spread has forced organizers of many events, including the Minnesota Horse Expoto restrict the number of horses attending for fear of spreading the virus. Stallion owners, breed and registry groups, and other stable owners are encouraged to put up displays rather than exhibit their horses. One barn at Aqueduct Racetrack remained under a precautionary quarantine after a horse was found to have EHV-1. Barrel racing and distance riding events have also been canceled.

Related: Which Vaccinations Does Your Horse Really Need
Related: 10 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Horse
Related: Six Horses in Tennessee Quarantined After Testing Positive for Equine Infectious Anemia
Related: Horse in Texas Team Roping Competition Tested Positive for Rabies

EHV-1, also known as Rhinopneumonitis starts out with cold-like symptoms. EHV-1 is only one of five different variations of EHV. Some of these variations affect the respiratory system, and some do not. EHV-1 is very contagious, being spread through the air when an infected horse coughs or clears its nose. The virus can linger on equipment like buckets, bits and feeders, or on stall walls or fences where a horse might touch.

Within ten days of being exposed to the virus, the horse may have an elevated temperature, become depressed, lose its appetite and refuse to eat. The horseís nose may start to run with thick mucous and the glands beneath its jaw and cheek bones will become swollen. Blood tests may show a decreased white blood cell count. Pregnant mares may abort their foals.

If the disease progresses, the virus may affect the neurological system of the horse. A horse may stumble, be off balance and eventually become paralyzed. At this stage, there is no treatment and euthanasia is the only option. EHV-1 can also lead to bacterial infections such as pneumonia.

Young horses are more at risk for EHV-1, because older horses often develop a natural immunity. There is a vaccine that prevents short-term protection, which may be valuable during an outbreak, but doesnít provide long-term protection. Most people donít vaccinate for EHV unless they are traveling a lot with their horse in areas where EHV outbreaks are occurring. Pregnant mares can be vaccinated in the fifth month of gestation.

The only other preventative is quarantine. Horses that test positive for EHV-1 should be kept separate from healthy horses. If you know that an outbreak has occurred, you may want to curtail your traveling plans. If you visit any horse event, wash your hands thoroughly, and clean any equipment you used that might carry the virus home to your own horses.

If your horse does get EHV-1, your vet will help you care for it, and if a bacterial infection is possible, administer antibiotics. There is no medication to specifically fight the virus though. Only good care, including high-quality feed, fresh water and a clean environment can be provided so that the horseís immune system can fight its own battle.

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