Culpeper, Virginia, Horses Test Positive for EHV-1

Culpeper, Virginia, Horses Test Positive for EHV-1

In many horses, fever is the only sign of EHV-1 infection, which can go undetected.

Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Two Virginia horses have tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) reported Aug. 15.

On Aug. 11, a horse from Culpeper which was exhibiting neurologic signs was transported to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg. The horse was immediately isolated from the hospital population and has not come into contact with any other patients.

On Aug. 12, the VDACS Animal Health Lab in Warrenton confirmed a diagnosis of Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). The horse remains isolated while undergoing supportive care.

On Aug. 14, a second horse from the same farm developed a fever and neurologic signs and was euthanized. The VDACS’ Animal Health Lab confirmed an EHV-1 diagnosis, and the farm has been quarantined.

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center employed strict biosecurity measures and disinfection upon arrival and will continue to do so during the entirety of the horse’s hospitalization. The center is operating normally.

Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus

Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form). In many horses, fever is the only sign of EHV-1 infection, which can go undetected.

In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months), but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.

Horses with the neurologic form usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.

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