UT Veterinary Medical Center Quarantined for EHV-1

UT Veterinary Medical Center Quarantined for EHV-1

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

The University of Tennessee (UT) Veterinary Medical Center is currently under quarantine after a horse brought to the hospital with clinical signs of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) was euthanized. Test results confirmed the horse was positive for the neurologic strain of the virus.

"On Sept. 15 a down (recumbent) horse was brought to the Equine Hospital at the UT Veterinary Medical Center at 2:00 p.m.," a statement from the hospital read. "The horse was kept in a separate area of the equine hospital. Within hours the horse's condition deteriorated, and the animal was euthanized."

"Our laboratory and an outside independent laboratory have both confirmed that the index horse that was euthanized within hours of being admitted was positive for the neurotrophic (neurologic) form of EHV-1," said Sandra Harbison, media relations director for UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Tennessee State Veterinarian implemented a seven day quarantine, effective Sept. 16, however Harbison noted the hospital also began its own 14-day quarantine period, also effective the morning of Sept. 16, and the statement indicated the hospital "expects to maintain voluntary isolation for an additional period of time as clinicians investigate a neurologic case" of the virus.

"It is important to note there is not currently an active case of EHV-1 in the hospital, and we are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of disease," the statement said. Harbison added that no new cases had been confirmed since the index horse was admitted.

"Appointments at the UT College of Veterinary Message Equine Hospital have been relocated to an off-site facility," the statement read. "In some instances, our ambulatory field service can provide medical care on-site for local owners."

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. 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.

Individuals with questions on the UT quarantine are asked to call 865/974-8387.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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