Butler County, Pennsylvania, Horse Tests Positive for EHV

Butler County, Pennsylvania, Horse Tests Positive for EHV

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

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor

A farm in Western Pennsylvania has been quarantined after a horse residing there tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reported Nov. 27.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture posted a quarantine at a Butler County dressage barn after a horse with signs of neurological impairment tested positive for EHV-1 (wild-type) by RRT-PCR testing of nasal swab and whole blood samples,” the EDCC said in a post on its website. “All equine animals on that property are under quarantine and are being monitored closely for signs of equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy.

“One other small private home barn is also under quarantine as it recently received a horse from the affected barn. An epidemiological investigation of equine movements is underway. As of today, there have been no deaths, no additional neurologically impaired animals, and the index case is recovering.”

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 equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, the neurologic form of the virus. 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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