Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Week 9: Wednesday What's It? - EHV-1

This week my What's It? doesn't give you a chance to guess at the purpose of something. With the recent outbreak of EHV-1 and EHM I decided this might be an opportunity to inform. 

What's It?

This is bad news. This is Equine Herpesvirus - 1, or EHV-1. Most horses have probably been exposed to EHV-1, however, according to one source, when horses are under stress the virus can reactivate and can cause EHM, or Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, a neurological form of the disease. This is the disease that was contracted by two Colorado horses at a National Cutting Horse event in Ogden, UT over Mother's Day weekend. One of those horses has been euthanized. Now the disease has been confirmed in 10 horses in California and 1 horse in Washington. Credible (but not official) reports indicate cases of EHV-1 in Utah,  Idaho, Arizona and Western Canada. Considering that 54 horses attended the initial event, the number who have been identified with the disease speaks to the ease of spreading this virus. Currently this appears to be a problem in the western states and Canada, but with the ease of interstate transport the virus could easily and unknowingly be carried to other states and even to other countries.

There is no cure for EHM. Symptoms of EHV-1 can be treated, but once the horse demonstrates neurological complications the only option is euthanasia. 

The incubation period for EHV-1 is 2-14 days. The virus is spread in horses from nose-to-nose contact and through water droplets in the air. It can also be carried on grooming and feed equipment and on caretaker's clothing. Humans can not contract the disease.  Many equestrian events have been canceled for this weekend and the Colorado State University Vet Hospital has closed its doors to horses coming in or going out. Horses being transported into the state of Colorado need to have a permit number on their health certificates, which is obtained from their veterinarian, who must call the Dept. of Ag in Colorado.

Horses that have had possible contact with the virus should be isolated and precautions taken to avoid spreading the disease to others. There are many excellent resources available on the Internet. One publication is put out by the USDA. It describes EHM  and talks about avoiding exposure and monitoring your horse if you think he may have been exposed. It is entitled, "Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, A Guide to Understanding the Neurological Form of EHV Infection"

EHV-1 gives a new meaning to 'Going Viral'. Take care of your horses! Keep on top of the news to keep your guys/gals safe.


  1. This is terrible news and I hope there will be some way to stop this virus from spreading. I don't have a horse, but I still appreciate your information for those who have horses.--Inger

  2. Gosh, just one more thing to worry about! I want a perfect world with no bad news.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, I could not reply since I do not have your email.

  3. Very scary. Thanks for the detailed post.

  4. Good info Dreamer. Let's hope it stays out of our area, but it sure seems to be spreading fast. I'm glad the local horse community is taking precautions and cancelling events to impede the spread.

  5. It just seems like there are so many things to worry about with animals, isn't there? Poor sad. And here I'm worrying about my dog that is limping. I think he just stepped on a bee. I don't have any horses, and probably never will, but I enjoy learning.

    Cindy Bee

  6. oh wow, thanks for the info! I will ask our vet what is going on in our area


  7. This is when I am SO glad we don't take our horses anywhere - very scary. Appreciate the info though, as I was a little vague on some the details there.


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