South Dakota’s state veterinarian confirms a horse has tested positive for the non-neuropathogenic strain of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1.)
The 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare located in Brown County began showing neurologic signs, including incoordination and difficulty walking. The horse is being treated at a local veterinary clinic.
EHV-1 is not uncommon in horse populations and can result in respiratory disease, abortion, or neurologic disease, according to state veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven. Respiratory or neurologic disease can be exhibited when horses are transported, commingled, or otherwise stressed. The respiratory form is the most common, with symptoms of coughing, nasal discharge and a high fever. The reproductive form causes abortion in mares.
EHV-1 is a contagious disease which is spread from horse to horse through direct contact or contact with contaminated objects such as buckets or hay racks.
Vaccination and biosecurity are two preventative measures that horse owners should consider. “Cleaning and disinfection of feed and water buckets, stalls, and trailers is important in preventing the spread of disease,” said Dr. Oedekoven. “Horse owners can minimize spread of EHV by implementing a 21-day isolation policy when adding new horses or returning horses to established herds.”
Additionally, Dr. Oedekoven states that horses vaccinated less than seven days or greater than 90 days before events are at higher risk for spreading EHV.