Oregon officials have confirmed a horse died after becoming infected with the neurological form of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1.)
An additional four horses at the same stable in Lane County have also tested positive. Ten horses call the farm home. It is now under quarantine.
“At this point in time, the investigation shows that this is an isolated incident confined to the animals now under quarantine,” says State Veterinarian Dr. Brad LeaMaster.
The deceased horse was purchased from Benton County. When contacted, the horse’s previous owner reported no signs of illness in their other horses, according to officials.
EHV-1 may lie dormant for long periods of time and then re-activate during a period of stress, which can result in clinical disease. EHV-1 can cause respiratory disease, abortions in pregnant mares, neurologic disease, and, in severe cases, death. The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. The virus can also spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, and hands.
“Equine veterinarians in the state are well aware of this virus and are trained to take the proper steps when a horse is showing symptoms,” says LeaMaster. Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.
LeaMaster advises horse owners to practice bio-security to protect their horses from being exposed to EHV-1 as well as other highly contagious pathogens.