LDAF Monitoring Horses Imported from Illinois

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is monitoring all horses entering Louisiana from Illinois due to the recent equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak at Hawthorne Race Course, located near Chicago. Horse owners must provide health certificates to the Louisiana State Veterinarian's Office prior to the animal's entry.

"This is a precautionary measure to prevent exposure to horses in Louisiana," said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM. "The Louisiana Office of the State Veterinarian is monitoring the outbreak at Hawthorne Race Course. This is a highly contagious disease and we will prohibit all horses from Illinois from entering the state unless they are cleared by a veterinarian."

Horses entering the state must have a health certificate that discloses that the horse has not been on Hawthorne's grounds in the preceding 30 days.

According to Stanley Seeling, president of the Louisiana Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, horses typically travel from Hawthorne Race Course to racetracks in Louisiana for the winter races.

Although it's not transmissible to humans, EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids, and it is generally passed from horse to horse via aerosol transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough) and contact with nasal secretions. EHV-1 can also be transmitted via contact with contaminated physical objects, including tack, brushes, feed and water buckets, and humans' hands, clothing, etc. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form).

Myeloencephalopathy is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence. Should a horse with potential EHV-1 exposure display any of the aforementioned clinical signs, a veterinarian should be called to obtain samples and test for the disease.

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