OSU Veterinary Hospital Managing Equine Influenza Cases

OSU Veterinary Hospital Managing Equine Influenza Cases

Photo: Courtesy New South Wales Department of Primary Industry

The Oregon State University (OSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital will not accept horses for anything but emergency services until at least Tuesday, July 30, due to an outbreak of equine influenza virus at the hospital, the school announced July 23.

Three horses at OSU are known to be infected with this virus and others could be, officials say. The affected horses have been placed in isolation and are being treated. Officials say they wish to emphasize that this is equine influenza virus, not equine herpesvirus-1, a more serious disease that is often confused with the influenza virus. The OSU equine facility typically treats five to 10 horses at a time, and all horses currently hospitalized will be monitored closely and tested for equine influenza prior to discharge.

“Equine influenza virus is endemic in the U.S., and we just happened to catch these cases,” said Keith Poulsen, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, an internal medicine specialist at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We’ve acted quickly so that hopefully no other animals will get infected.”

The Large Animal Internal Medicine and Surgery Services program at OSU is working with the state veterinarian’s office to inform veterinarians and horse owners about the disease.

Equine influenza is not transferable to humans or other animal species, but can spread rapidly among horses and other equids. It is the most common contagious respiratory pathogen for horses and most animals fully recover; Young, elderly, or pregnant animals are more at-risk for contracting viral diseases such as equine influenza.

The first clinical sign in horses is typically a fever, followed by cough, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Horses with a fever of greater than 102.5°F should be seen by a veterinarian.

Infected horses can shed or transmit the virus for up to 10 days after incubation, although the peak of shedding is three to five days after infection. Horses that show signs of the disease should be isolated from other horses for 10 days after clinical signs first appear.

The virus is easily killed by many disinfectants, and thorough cleaning of stalls and equipment can help prevent the virus from spreading. Vaccination of horses during an outbreak in a training facility or barn can be beneficial, in consultation with a veterinarian.

Anyone who has concerns about the health of their animals should contact their veterinarian or the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at OSU, at 541/737-2858 or http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/.

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