Minnesota EHV-1: Horses Striding Towards Recovery

According to a statement posted on the University of Minnesota (UM) Equine Center Facebook page, several horses involved in the neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak in Minnesota have responded to treatment and are in the process of recovering from the disease.

"Two of the three hospitalized horses receiving treatment for neurologic EHV-1 infection from board-certified internal medicine specialists at the University of Minnesota Large Animal Hospital have improved and returned home to their dedicated owner," the statement read. "The third horse has also made great strides, but is not yet ready to return home."

The statement also noted that no additional cases have been confirmed on the index premises or elsewhere in the state.

"As it can take three weeks for infected horses to stop shedding virus, strict biosecurity measures remain in force at the farm and the Large Animal Hospital, and we cannot yet rule out the possibility that new cases may occur," the statement read.

The current outbreak began Nov. 10 when the index horse began showing sudden signs of disease, treating clinician Anna Firshman, BVSc, PhD, CERP, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVSMR, assistant clinical professor of Large Animal Medicine at the UM Veterinary Medical Center, previously told TheHorse.com. That horse was euthanized after his conditioned worsened.

Three horses from the index farm were hospitalized for treatment while several others were treated on the premises.

In the Nov. 29 Facebook post, UM advised area horse owners to be on the lookout for clinical signs including weakness, ataxia (incoordination), and urine dribbling or difficulty passing urine and to contact a veterinarian immediately if signs develop.

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, 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.

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 three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado, and enjoys photography in her spare time.

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