By: Megan Arszman
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and State Veterinarian’s office announced 9/10 that three horses from a boarding and training facility in Dane County have tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1).
The first horse became ill in late August, showing neurologic signs and was humanely euthanized. The other two became ill over Labor Day weekend and are still being treated by a veterinarian.
Equine herpesvirus-1 is a highly contagious infection that is widespread in the equine population. It can cause respiratory disease in weanlings and young horses, abortion in pregnant mares, and neurologic disease in adult horses. According to TheHorse.com, the virus damages the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord, causing tissue damage, necrosis, and loss of neurologic function (i.e., a wobbly hindend, being unable to stand while the tail is being pulled, etc.).
Some clinical signs horses suffering from EHV-1 will show include nasal discharge (opaque, not clear), fever, cough, depression, and decreased appetite. Some neurologic signs can include urine dribbling, incoordination, loss of tail tone, and an inability to rise from laying down.
“Horses with a fever and symptoms of contagious respiratory infection should be kept at home and not taken to shows, competitions, clinics, or public trail rides,” says Wisconsin State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw in the office’s press release. He advises that horse owners should be aware that transportation of horses to competitions, shows, and clinics may increase the exposure to infectious organisms.
The owners said all three horses had been vaccinated in the spring for rhinopneumonitis, which is caused by EHV-1.
Humans cannot be infected with EHV-1, but they can help spread it to horses. Dr. McGraw reminds owners to wash and disinfect your hands regularly around horses, healthy or ill.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is providing information resources and situational updates on its website at datcp.wi.gov/animals/animal_diseases and on Facebook at facebook.com/widatcp, and on Twitter at twitter.com/widatcp