EHV-1 Confirmed in Two Texas Horses

EHV-1 Confirmed in Two Texas Horses

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

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The Texas Animal Health Commission confirmed equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in two El Paso County horses on Feb. 19, 2016. The El Paso horses are two of the now 74 EHV-positive horses linked to an outbreak of the disease at Sunland Park, a racetrack in New Mexico.

Both horses showed signs of respiratory illness, fever and nasal discharge when evaluated by a local veterinarian. The horses tested positive for EHV-1, but neither horse showed signs of the neurologic form of the disease. Texas authorities have placed the horse’s resident stable under movement restriction as a precaution, and all horses are being monitored daily.

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.

Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus

Direct horse-to-horse contact is a common route of transmission of the virus. Indirect transmission is also possible and occurs when infectious materials (nasal secretions, fluids from abortions, etc.) are carried between infected and non-infected horses by people or inanimate objects such as buckets, tack, trailers etc. EHV’s clinical signs include fever, coughing, and nasal discharge.

Neurologic signs associated with EHV are highly variable, but often the hindquarters are most severely affected. Horses with EHV-1 might appear weak and uncoordinated. Urine dribbling and loss of tail tone may also be seen. Severely affected horses may become unable to rise. Many horses exposed to EHV-1 never develop clinical signs.

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