On April 17, a Quarter Horse mare at a fairground in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, developed ataxia with progression of neurological signs and behavior. She was transported to an equine hospital and later euthanized due to the progression of clinical signs. On April 20, the mare was confirmed positive for EHV-1.
Fourteen horses were identified as having direct exposure with the index horse. Those horses have been quarantined and isolated. On April 21, they all tested negative for EHV-1. They will remain in isolation for a minimum of 14 days and two negative tests at least seven days apart. They will receive two doses of an amniotic product to reduce viral shedding. Quarantine will either be completed on-site or, with permission from the state veterinarian, in the state of destination, at the premises of the owner/trainer/agent.
All horses on the premises were also quarantined until states of destination were contacted on April 21.
EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.
Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and EHM.
In many horses, the first or only sign of EHV-1 infection is fever, which can go undetected. In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months) but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.
Horses with EHM usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.
Herpesvirus is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse; sharing contaminated equipment including bits, buckets, and towels; or clothing, hands, or equipment of people who have recently had contact with an infectious horse. Routine biosecurity measures, including hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices, should be in place at all times to help prevent disease spread.
Current EHV-1 vaccines might reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurologic form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread, and the best method of disease control is disease prevention.