Equine Herpesvirus Case Being Treated at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
UPDATE: The Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center at North Carolina State University's Veterinary Health Complex has returned to a standard facility schedule following the quarantine and isolation of a mare that tested positive for the neurologic form of equine herpes virus on Jan. 4. Horses in the Center when the mare entered the isolation unit have been discharged, and new outpatient and elective cases are being accepted. Emergency cases admitted during the past week will continue to be hospitalized for a total of seven days. Strict biosecurity measures continue while the mare remains in the separate isolation facility.
Clinicians at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine have isolated and quarantined a horse that has tested positive for the neurologic form of equine herpes virus (Equine Herpesvirus-1 Myeloencephalopathy).
The mare was taken directly to the separate isolation unit at the CVM Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center on the Veterinary Health Complex immediately upon arrival from its stable in Rockingham County. Tests confirmed a referring veterinarian’s tentative diagnosis of the infectious disease.
Commonly known as EHV-1, the neurologic form of equine herpes virus is highly contagious among horses, but poses no threat to humans. Outbreaks of the virus have occurred in some 10 western states as well as Virginia and Tennessee in the past year. This is the first case ever seen at the NC State CVM.
The NC State CVM is working with the State Veterinarian Dr. David Marshall and the Veterinary Division in the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in a collaborative response to the case. The Veterinary Division continues to investigate the problem and is working to determine if other animals have been exposed to the virus.
“With the prior warning we were able to take the horse directly from the farm into our separate isolation unit so no horses currently in our hospital were exposed,” says Dr. Sam Jones, professor of equine medicine. “We consulted with the State Veterinarian’s Office as well as with biosecurity experts at Colorado State University who had previous experience with the virus. We are following our formal procedures for dealing with a highly contagious infectious disease and a team of CVM veterinarians and veterinary technicians has been assigned exclusively to this case to further ensure the health of our other equine patients.”
According to Dr. Marshall, the virus has been increasing in frequency throughout the United States for the past decade, but this is the first case of the neurologic form of the equine herpes virus in North Carolina. In a statement Dr. Marshall added, “We are working with the College of Veterinary Medicine at NC State University and with the stable to implement biosecurity measures and minimize the risk of further spread.”
As an extra precaution while the infected mare remains quarantined in the isolation facility, the NC State Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center will carefully monitor existing equine patients in the hospital and will accept only emergency cases for the next seven days. CVM veterinarians are communicating directly with referring equine veterinarians, with the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, and with horse owners who are concerned about the virus. A veterinarian or owner with specific questions may call 919.513.6630.
More about EHV-1
- EHV-1 infection is usually associated with respiratory disease but has also been associated with late term abortion, neonatal foal death, and neurological disease.
- EHV-1 is spread by direct horse-to-horse contact, by contaminated hands, equipment and tack, and, for a short time, through aerosolization of the virus within the environment of the stall and stable.
- Vaccines are available to protect horses from most forms of EHV-1, but not from the strains that cause neurologic problems.
- Signs of the infection include fever of 102°F or greater. Other presenting signs may be combinations of fever and respiratory symptoms of nasal discharge and cough. Some horses have reddish mucous membranes.
- Affected horses that develop neurological disease develop signs 7-12 days after the initial fever. They typically become uncoordinated and have trouble walking and standing. Difficulty urinating and defecating may also occur. Often the rear limbs are more severely affected than the front. Other advanced signs include extreme lethargy, abnormal function of the eyes or face, difficulty swallowing, and a coma-like state.
- The EVH-1 incubation period of EHV-1 infection is highly variable. Measures to protect horses involve quarantining facilities and include disinfecting and not sharing water and feed buckets. Stalls and trailers should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Detergent solutions or solutions of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water is effective for decontaminating equipment and environment.
Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) & EHV-1 Resources
The Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
EHV-1 Webinar for Horse Owners- This webinar presentation was given by Drs. Paul Lunn and Paul Morley on May 24.
Frequently Asked Questions about EHV/EHM for Horse Owners
EHV/EHM Brochure for Horse Owners
University of California, Davis, School Vet Med– detailed and practical information about handling sick horses, diagnostic testing, and control.
USDA EHV Resources
USDA Equine Biosecurity Brochure (available in Spanish as well through USDA/APHIS)
AAEP EHV Control Guidelines
AAEP Biosecurity Control Guidelines
National Cutting Horse Association EHV Resources
American Quarter Horse Association EHV Update
American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Health Updates
Original post Jan. 5, 2012
Updated Jan. 12, 2012