Maryland, Virginia Probe Possible EHV-1 Exposure

From edited press releases

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is conducting a neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 investigation in six locations involving five horses currently located in the state.

The investigation is warranted because the horses had possible indirect exposure to an EHV-1 test-positive horse initially under treatment for colic at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va. The five Maryland horses were discharged before the horse at Leesburg showed clinical signs of EHV-1.

The “index” horse that originally went to Leesburg was from St. Mary’s County, Maryland (the sixth location being monitored) and remains under treatment at Leesburg.

MDA veterinarians put weeklong “investigational hold orders” on the farms to prevent any movement of horses onto or off of the farms until test results are returned. MDA veterinarians will evaluate each location on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, under the direction of state veterinarian Richard Wilkes, veterinarians with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have quarantined six farms in Northern Virginia with horses that might have been exposed to a horse infected with EHV-1.

Quarantines will restrict movement on and off the affected facilities. In addition, veterinarians are urging horse owners to observe strict hygiene control procedures, including a thorough cleaning and disinfecting routine using a proven disinfectant/cleaner, to avoid spreading the disease in the environment.

EHV-1 is a highly infectious disease that usually affects the respiratory system. Occasionally, the virus can also cause neurologic disease. Transmission likely occurs by inhaling infected droplets or ingesting material contaminated by nasal discharges or aborted fetuses.