Florida EHV-1: Additional Horses Confirmed Positive

Florida EHV-1: Additional Horses Confirmed Positive

A rectal thermometer is a necessary tool for monitoring your horse's temperature in case of infection.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Veterinarians have confirmed five additional cases of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in connection with the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) circuit in Ocala, Fla., according to a Feb. 27 statement from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Animal Industry.

None of the new positive horses have exhibited neurological signs at this time, the statement said.

"While the additional positive horses were detected after leaving the showgrounds, they resided in Tent 3 and Tent 6 in proximity to Tent 7 which housed the index case," the statement noted. "With evidence of more widespread exposure, all of the horses at the HITS showgrounds have been placed under quarantine. The Division of Animal Industry is continuing their disease investigation and developing protocols for surveillance and quarantine release measures. An incident command team comprised of state and federal personnel is being mobilized to implement appropriate control measures."

One of the EHV-1 positive horses associated with HITS is currently located at Redfield Farm, in Ocala, and the remaining four are located at Miles Away Farm, in Loxahatchee, Fla, the FDACS statement said.

On Feb. 21, a horse that was stabled at the HITS facility was diagnosed with the neurologic form of EHV-1. At last update on Feb. 25, that horse was undergoing treatment and in stable condition at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine's Large Animal Hospital.

Also today (Feb. 27), the FDACS reported that a horse at Tequestrian Farm, in Wellington, tested positive for EHV-1. That horse is not believed to be linked to the HITS outbreak, the statement noted, and that horse is not displaying any neurologic signs of disease.

Quarantines have been implemented at the following facilities and farms in response to the EHV-1 cases, noted the FDACS statement:

  • HITS Showgrounds, Ocala--entire facility
  • FEI Tent at the Wellington Showgrounds
  • Up Country Farm/Synergy Farm, Ocala
  • Montera Farm, Ocala
  • Flutterby Farm, Ocala
  • Foxwood Farms, Pinellas Park
  • Black Forest Farm, St. Augustine
  • Littlewood Farm, Wellington
  • Brookmore Farm, Oviedo
  • Kings Ridge Farm, Reddick
  • Tequestrian Farm, Wellington
  • Redfield Farm, Ocala
  • Miles Away Farm, Loxahatchee

"Additional movement requirements or restrictions have not been imposed by Florida or any other states at this time," the statement noted. "We are advising horse owners and trainers to contact the venue of destination for any additional requirements prior to travel."

The FDACS recommended that owners or caretakers of horses that have shown at HITS since Feb. 5, 2013, closely monitor the animals, report of any fevers greater than 101.5 to a veterinarian immediately, and adhere to strict biosecurity measures for at least 21 days after HITS departure date.

Although it's not transmissible to humans, EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids and is generally passed from horse to horse via aerosol transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough) and contact with nasal secretions. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form).

Myeloencephalopathy is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence. Should a horse that potentially has been exposed to EHV-1 display any of the aforementioned clinical signs, call a veterinarian to obtain samples and test for the disease.

TheHorse.com will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.


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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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