Utah EHV-1: All Quarantines Lifted

The Utah state veterinarian's office has lifted all quarantines that have been in place since equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) was discovered in Cache County in late February, the department announced April 8. 

The quarantine removals come after the last two horses at locations in that county passed a 28-day waiting period without becoming sick after coming in contact with diseased horses.

There was a total of nine confirmed cases of EHV-1 in Utah, all of which were confined to five locations in Cache County. 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 Cache County Fairgrounds Horse Arena was temporarily closed during this outbreak because the affected horses had been at the facility shortly before displaying clinical signs. Officials suspect that a common tie-down rail at the arena was contaminated by an infected horse and was the center of the outbreak.

Utah State Veterinarian Bruce King, DVM, reminds horse owners that EHV-1 lies dormant in many horses, and signs could surface due to stress or contact with infected horses. He says it is always recommended that horse owners practice good biosecurity when taking their animals to equine events.

Horse owners should feel confident that they can attend upcoming events with no more risk of contracting the disease than before the recent outbreak.

"The EHV-1 virus was here before this outbreak, and it will be here after this outbreak," said King.

EHV-1 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, the signs of disease are sometimes treatable. Horse owners should watch their horses carefully and call their veterinarian immediately if any abnormal signs are observed.

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