Virginia Training Facility Released from Quarantine

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

In late February, 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 index horse was placed in isolation 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 shortly before testing positive for EHV-1. As such, the VDACS placed that training facility has under quarantine, and all exposed horses were monitored twice daily for fever (a temperature over 101.5°F) and other clinical signs.

The Florida quarantine was released on March 16.

Also on March 16, Virginia State Veterinarian Richard Wilkes, DVM, lifted the quarantine on the Virginia facility. Since the quarantine was put in place, all exposed horses at the Virginia facility were monitored twice daily for fever and other clinical signs.

“I have lifted the quarantine,” said Wilkes, “but I do urge all horse owners to monitor their animals regularly for signs of disease and to observe strict biosecurity as a matter of practice.”

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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