Possible Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 Cases in Iowa

At least two Iowa horses have been euthanized after battling what officials believe might be the neurologic form of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1). According to Iowa State Veterinarian John Schiltz, DVM, officials know of only one premise possibly affected by the virus, where these two horses lived. "Some of the preliminary tests have come back negative, but the definitive testing is not yet completed. I"m hearing lots of rumors about other possible cases," he said.

"There are elements of the case in Iowa that could be considered (consistent) with equine herpesvirus," he said, and others that aren't consistent with the disease. "None of the animals have exhibited any respiratory symptoms," he explained, symptoms that are often seen before signs of neurological illness appear. He emphasized that EHV-1 hasn’t been ruled out since neurologic signs were associated with the recent Findlay, Ohio, outbreak.

Both horses were submitted for necropsy to Iowa State University’s diagnostic lab. Schiltz said that additional samples have been sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, where EHV diagnostics were performed recently for the Ohio EHV-1 outbreak at the University of Findlay. Confirmatory test results should be available next week.

In the meantime, Schiltz would like to follow up on some of the rumors that clinical signs consistent with the neurologic form of EHV-1 have affected other horses in the state. The EHV-1 organism can cause three different forms of disease, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease of mostly young horses), abortions in pregnant mares, and a neurologic disease.

"We're still in the process of trying to run down some of these rumors and find out what, if any, truth there was, and if there were any additional horses," he said. He is asking people to report possible Iowa cases to the state veterinarian’s office at 515/281-5305.

Schiltz says that a potential problem with reporting rumored cases could be that owners or veterinarians didn’t take good diagnostic notes on cases. "We're still going to follow up on them--that’s useful information to piece together what we’re dealing with. Hopefully within a week, we can complete (tests) and give a clearer picture of what we think we're fighting out here."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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