Nebraska State Veterinarian Encourages EHV-1 Awareness

Nebraska State Veterinarian Encourages EHV-1 Awareness

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.

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

Due to an increased number of confirmed equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) cases across the nation, Nebraska State Veterinarian Dennis Hughes, DVM, is reminding horse owners and equine event operators to remain vigilant and exercise biosecurity measures.

“No horses in Nebraska have been diagnosed with the disease at this time,” said Hughes. Still, he said, “I want to encourage horse owners to take precautions to help prevent this disease from affecting our horse population.”

Hughes explained that two horses (one from Wisconsin and one from Kansas) which had attended an April competition held at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, were recently diagnosed with EHV-1. A number of states are currently dealing with this disease, he said.

Hughes encourages all horse owners to follow biosecurity measures at their operations, including:

  • Requiring individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse;
  • Disinfecting boots and changing clothes that come into contact with horses other than your own;
  • Avoiding contact with horses that aren't your own; and
  • Isolating horses going off the property for shows or events from the general farm population for two to three weeks after returning to the premises.

“Owners who will be commingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses’ current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccinating their animals for EHV-1,” said Hughes.

The disease is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected horses, so Hughes encourages operators of horse shows/exhibitions to review their biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other. Indirect contact includes the use of shared water and feed sources, as well as the use of shared equipment (such as tack and buckets).

In addition, Hughes said he recommends horse owners planning to travel to shows/exhibitions contact the venue prior to transporting their horses to inquire about entrance requirements (such as health certificates) for the event.

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 the disease are somtimes treatable.

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