Utah EHV-1: Two Quarantines to be Lifted

The Utah state veterinarian's office plans to lift quarantines at two of seven locations in Cache County today (March 20) that have been in place since equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) was discovered in that county late last month. Horses at five other locations will remain under quarantine. State veterinarians expect to remove quarantines on two additional locations by Friday (March 22). The quarantine removals come after horses at the locations have passed a 28 day waiting period without becoming sick after coming in contact with diseased horses.

Nine cases of EHV-1 have been confirmed in Cache County since late February, and four of the affected horses were euthanized because of their condition. The state veterinarian's office restricted the movement of infected and suspect animals as a precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. The outbreak remains confined to Cache County; there have been no other reports of EHV-1 positive horses in the state. Nonetheless, horse owners throughout Utah are advised to continue taking extra biosecurity precautions when taking their animals to shows or public arenas.

The Cache County Fairgrounds Horse Arena remains closed until further notice because all of the affected horses had been at the facility recently. Horse owners who have taken their animals to the Cache County Fairgrounds Arena during the past 30 days should monitor their horse's temperature and report concerns to their local veterinarian.

The state veterinarian recommends that horse facilities proceed with planned equine events, and that horse owners planning on traveling to an event should take their horse's temperature daily, beginning three days prior to travel and daily during the event. Horses with temperatures of 103°F and above should not travel or mingle with other horses. Horses should be isolated for two weeks after returning home from an event, during which time they should be monitored for disease symptoms.

Although EHV-1 is not transmissible to people, it can affect a horse's reproductive, respiratory, and nervous systems and can lead to death. This highly contagious disease can spread rapidly among horses through the air, nose-to-nose contact, contaminated equipment, clothing, and human hands.

Clinical signs of EHV-1 include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, signs of disease are be treatable. Horse owners should watch their horses carefully and call their veterinarian immediately if any abnormal signs are observed.

Utah horse owners are advised to take extra security measures to prevent unnecessary contact with possibly infected horses, and to quickly report symptoms to their veterinarian. Horse event coordinators should contact their show veterinarian for recommendations concerning planned events.

"As a precaution to Utah horse owners, I advise they take extra biosecurity steps to safeguard the health of their animals, said State Veterinarian Bruce King, DVM. "Don't let your horses touch other horses, especially nose to nose. Isolate horses that return to the farm from a show or event."

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