A Michigan horse has been euthanized after becoming infected with the equine herpes virus (EHV-1).
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirms the horse was stabled in Livingston County and tested positive for the respiratory form of the disease. It also suffered from neurologic symptoms, which happens about 10% of the time, according to the agency’s spokesperson Jennifer Holton.
The department is tracing the barrel racer’s movement prior to becoming infected and seeing if any other horses were exposed.
Like herpes viruses in other species, equine herpes has the ability to lay dormant as a latent infection, according to Dr. Judith Marteniuk of Michigan State University Extension. This allows the virus to continually reside within the horse, and at any time it can become an active viral infection, especially if the horse is stressed.
The incubation period for EHV-1 may be as short as a day or up to ten days. Dr. Marteniuk says the virus is shed for seven to 10 days, but shedding has been documented for up to 28 days after clinical signs have been recognized.
Some horses will develop nasal discharge, depression and loss of appetite. Additional signs of the disease can include fever, coughing, runny nose, and sometimes neurologic signs such as weakness, an unsteady gait, and the inability to stand. EHV-1 is highly contagious to horses. Suspect horses should be isolated from healthy horses.
Veterinarians recommend using proper biosecurity measures when attending equine events to help protect your horses from the potential spread of any illness:
· Limit horse-to-horse contact.
· Limit horse-to-human-to-horse contact.
· Avoid use of communal water sources.
· Avoid sharing of equipment unless thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
· Monitor your horse for clinical signs of disease and report any temperature over 102°F to a veterinarian.
This is the first case of EHV-1 in the state this year.