A Delaware state veterinarian announced Dec. 8 a Standardbred horse in Kent County tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), a highly infectious viral disease of horses.
State veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst said PCR test results from the University of Kentucky confirmed a horse that showed signs of the illness Dec. 3 was euthanized four days later. Blood and nasal swab samples had been sent to the university, and the horse’s clinical signs continued to progress, according to a press release issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
The horse had no record of racing, qualifying, or training at Dover Downs. The Delaware Harness Racing Commission investigative unit is conducting a thorough investigation of this matter in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
The State Veterinarian’s Office and the owners of the horse, who were not identified in the release, have implemented biosecurity measures and protocols to prevent the spread of the disease into Delaware’s equine community. The horse farm, which also was not identified, was notified of quarantine on Dec. 6.
Earliest clinical signs of the neurological form of EHV include fever (101.5 F or higher) and ataxia (incoordination). The respiratory form of the disease may or may not precede the neurological form. The virus is spread most commonly via infectious respiratory secretions, but may also be carried on contaminated equipment, clothing and hands of personnel.
Regular updates regarding this investigation will be available on the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s website: www.dda.delaware.gov .