On Feb. 21, a horse displaying neurological signs was diagnosed positive for the EHV-1 wild strain and on February 27th, several more horses were diagnosed with the virus. The HITS show grounds are currently under quarantine pending Florida’s epidemiological investigation but horses that attended the show in February may have been exposed to the virus.
Owners whose horses attended the show last month should contact their private veterinarians for more information on monitoring their horses for at least 28 days after their departure from HITS.
“As always, we’re just taking precautionary measures and providing horse owners some awareness of the situation. This is a contagious disease and horses that participated in the Ocala, Florida Winter Show Circuit and will be returning to Louisiana must be cleared by a veterinarian and must notify the Louisiana State Veterinarian’s Office in order to re-enter the state,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “Right now, seven horses that left prior to the HITS show grounds quarantine are currently quarantined in New Orleans and are being monitored by a veterinarian. We are working to determine how many Louisiana horses actually attended the show,” added Strain.
Florida animal health officials have deemed that the area in which the Louisiana horses were housed at HITS was a minimal risk area. “While it is believed there was a low risk of exposure, the fact that some Florida horses have tested positive for the disease means we must be on alert,” said Strain.
EHV-1 is a DNA virus that can cause fever, lethargy, abortion, respiratory, neurological issues and death. It can be spread directly from horse-to-horse or indirectly through coughing or contact with physical objects contaminated with the virus. Those objects include: tack, wipe rags or other grooming equipment, feed and water buckets and people’s hands or clothing.
EHV-1 is not contagious to humans.
More information on EHV-1 can be found at the following websites:
• American Association of Equine Practitioners, http://www.aaep.org/health_articles.php?category=Equine+Herpesvirus+%28EHV%29
• Gluck Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky, http://www.ca.uky.edu/gluck/BiblioEHV1.asp
Bio-security information can be found at the following websites:
• American Association of Equine Practitioners, http://www.aaep.org/pdfs/control_guidelines/Biosecurity_instructions%201.pdf
• United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS), http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/HorseBioSecurity_final.pdf