Fauquier County, Virginia, Training Facility Quarantined

A Thoroughbred training facility in Fauquier County, Virginia, has been quarantined after a horse previously residing there tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in Florida.

On the evening of Feb. 29, the state veterinarian’s office at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) received notification from the Florida state veterinarian’s office that a Virginia horse recently relocated to Martin County, Florida, had tested positive for EHV-1. The animal’s clinical signs were consistent with equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form of EHV-1). The index horse was placed in isolation early in the day and the Florida facility was placed under quarantine.

An investigation revealed that the index horse was shipped from the Virginia Thoroughbred training facility to Florida on Feb. 22. As such, the VDACS placed that training facility has under quarantine, and all exposed horses are being monitored twice daily for fever (a temperature over 101.5°F) and other clinical signs. To date, no exposed horses in Virginia have shown clinical signs of disease or been febrile, but the monitoring will continue throughout the quarantine period. In addition to the horses exposed at the training facility, the investigation has revealed only one other exposed horse that traveled out of state.

Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus

The index horse traveled from Virginia to Florida with additional horses that off-loaded in South Carolina. Potentially exposed horses in that state are currently being observed for signs of disease.

State animal health officials in Virginia and Florida will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as warranted.

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

In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months), but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.

Horses with the neurologic form usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.

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