EHV Confirmed at Fair Grounds Race Course

EHV Confirmed at Fair Grounds Race Course

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

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

The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reported Dec. 27 that a 2-year-old Thoroughbred gelding stabled at the Fair Grounds Race Course, in New Orleans, Louisiana, tested positive for the neurotrophic strain of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1).

The horse, which had been at the track since Dec. 4, developed a fever without neurologic signs on Dec. 20, the EDCC said. The horse responded to systematic treatment until Dec. 25, when he developed neurologic signs. He was euthanized on Dec. 26 and transported to Louisiana State University for necropsy, the EDCC said.

“The horse was confined to its stall in Barn 14 since Dec 20 and had no direct contact with any other horses, but Barn 14, which houses 46 other horses, is currently under quarantine by the Louisiana State Veterinarian’s Office,” the EDCC said. “Horses will be monitored and have temperatures twice daily with increased biosecurity on the premises. An investigation with the State Racing Commission is currently underway.”

Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus

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.

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.

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 eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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