Update December 31, 2015
A Pennsylvania horse farm is under quarantine after four horses were euthanized due to equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM), according to the treating veterinarian. The neurological disease is caused by the equine herpes virus (EHV-1).
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture states one of the deceased horses competed at a New Jersey horse show on December 12, 2015, before it was symptomatic. An investigation is underway to trace the horse’s movement and identify possible sources of the infection. New Jersey officials have not named the show, but say no horses in the state have been confirmed with EHV-1.
Mile View Farm, located in Doylestown, was placed under quarantine on December 23rd. The quarantine will remain in place for 21 days from the last significant clinical finding, which is now December 31. The hunter/jumper boarding and training stable’s horses are being monitored and suspect cases are being tested. Two horses at the facility are neurological as of the last day of 2015, according to Blauner, Vecchione, Buchholz and Associates, the treating veterinarian clinic.
Symptoms that should alert horse owners to the possibility of a neurologic EHV-1 infection include fever of over 102 degrees, weakness, incoordination, and urine dribbling or the inability to urinate. Horses with these symptoms should be examined immediately by a veterinarian.
EHV-1 can be spread through various methods. Direct, horse-to-horse contact is a common route of transmission, but indirect transmission is also possible. This occurs when infectious materials are carried between infected and non-infected horses by people or inanimate objects such as buckets, tack, or trailers. Aerosol transmission can also occur when infectious droplets are inhaled. The source of infectious droplets is most often respiratory secretions.
Some in the area are self-quarantining their horses, but the only farm under a state-imposed quarantine is Mile View Farm. No restrictions have been placed on horses being imported to Florida for the winter circuit from Pennsylvania.
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.
There is no vaccine currently on the market that has a label for prevention of the neurologic form of EHV-1.