Update February 20, 2016
New Mexico officials say the EHV-1 count continues to rise and has moved to Texas. A total of 72 New Mexico horses and two Texas horses are confirmed with equine herpes virus (EHV-1).
The Texas horses are located in El Paso County. Both horses showed signs of respiratory illness, fever and nasal discharge, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission. The horses belong to a trainer that has horses at Sunland Park Racetrack. The El Paso farm is under quarantine.
To date, 17 barns have been released from exposed status. Sunland Park Racetrack and Frontera Training Center remain under quarantine with biosecurity measures in place. That is because EHV-1 is highly contagious to other horses and can cause respiratory disease, abortion, and neurologic disease.
The virus can affect horses of all breeds and ages, and is spread via direct contact, indirect contact via shared water buckets or people’s hands, and through the air.
Most horses have been exposed to and infected by EHV-1 by the time they are 2-year-olds. Often the virus becomes inactive once the horse is infected, but the animal remains a life-long carrier of the virus.
Carriers may show no outward signs of infection with EHV-1, though the virus can be re-activated should the horse become stressed, such as during transport or intense exercise. Once activated, the virus can spread via the aerosol route even if the horse appears healthy.
Symptoms of EHV-1 may include fever (if your horse develops a fever over 101.5, veterinarians recommend immediately calling your vet), 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.