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Herpes virus diagnosed in Gregory County horse

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board (SDAIB) has received confirmation of Equine herpes virus (EHV-1) infection in a Gregory County horse. The affected horse and others on the premises have been quarantined to prevent the spread of disease to o...

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board (SDAIB) has received confirmation of Equine herpes virus (EHV-1) infection in a Gregory County horse. The affected horse and others on the premises have been quarantined to prevent the spread of disease to other horses.

The horse was not taken to the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier this spring, where an outbreak of EHV-1 has been traced.

Although EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses, it does not pose a threat to human health.

EHV is transmitted primarily by aerosol when infectious droplets are inhaled. The source of infectious droplets is most often respiratory secretions. Direct horse-to-horse contact is a common transmission route for the virus, but indirect transmission is also possible. That occurs when infectious materials (nasal secretions, fluids from abortions, etc.) are carried between infected and non-infected horses by people or fomites (inanimate objects such as buckets, etc.)

Clinical signs include fever, coughing and nasal discharge. Horses with neurologic symptoms may appear weak and uncoordinated. Urine dribbling and loss of tail tone may also be seen. Severely affected horses may be unable to rise. None of these signs is specific to EHV, and diagnostic testing is required to confirm EHV infection. Many horses exposed to EHV never develop clinical signs.

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Vaccines effective in preventing respiratory and reproductive EHV are widely available and should be administered as directed by the owner's veterinarian. The vaccine does not appear to protect horses from neurologic herpes, but vaccination will reduce the amount of circulating EHV virus in equine populations, thereby lowering exposure risks.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREHEALTH
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