The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is investigating one confirmed case of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in the state, and has placed a quarantine on a farm in Cache County. Two other horses at the location were euthanized after showing neurologic signs consistent with the disease.
With the exception of the index and direct contact horses, no other horses, to date, have become ill with similar signs. Because of the highly contagious nature of this disease other cases could surface in the coming days. Horse owners are advised to quickly report symptoms to their veterinarian.
Event coordinators for upcoming horse events should contact their show veterinarian for recommendations concerning the event.
"As a precaution to Utah horse owners, I advise they take extra biosecurity steps to safeguard the health of their animals," said State Veterinarian Bruce King, DVM. "Don't let your horses touch other horses, especially nose to nose. Isolate horses that return to the farm from a show or event."
Meanwile, officials at Hawthorne Race Course are dealing with an EHV outbreak of their own. Two horses were confirmed positive for the disease Wednesday (Oct. 17) and a quarantine on their barn has been put in place. According to a report from the Daily Racing Form, one horse was euthanized and the other died earlier in the week.
Although it's not transmissible to humans, EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids, and it is generally passed from horse to horse via aerosol transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough) and contact with nasal secretions. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form). Myeloencephalopathy is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.