An Oregon horse has been diagnosed with the equine herpes virus (EHV-1). The state’s department of agriculture says the Quarter Horse is from Marion County.
The 14-year-old gelding is hospitalized at the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Large Animal Hospital after being admitted for sudden onset of neurologic signs. The horse tested positive for both the wild type and the more serious neuropathogenic form of EHV-1.
The affected Quarter Horse has not traveled or competed for at least four months, according to state health officials. The stable and all of its horses have been quarantined.
Oregon had other cases of EHV-1 in late April and early May. The department states this diagnosis is being classified as a new case, due to the length of time and a lack of epidemiological links to the previous EHV-1 cases. Six of the eight quarantines associated with the previous EHV-1 cases have been released.
EHV-1 is naturally occurring and widespread within the equine population. It is a common virus and may lie dormant for long periods of time and then re-activate during periods 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.
Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.
Veterinarians recommend that horse owners practice bio-security to protect their horses from being exposed to the virus since it is highly contagious and spread through direct horse-to-horse contact. It can also be spread through contaminated clothes, equipment, and hands.
For more information, contact your local veterinarian.