Kentucky Farm Managers Address EHV-1 Concerns

In light of recent outbreaks of the equineherpes virus (EHV-1) and the Feb. 13 opening of most Central Kentucky breeding sheds, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club held a discussion at its Feb. 9 meeting on how best to prevent the spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, the farm managers club issued a release requesting all mares be vaccinated because of the equine herpesvirus outbreak at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky and at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Rhinomune, Pneumabort K, or comparable vaccines should be given to mares seven to 90 days before they are brought to the breeding shed.

Dr. Robert Holland told the membership EHV-1 in mares can cause respiratory syndromes, abortions, still birth in foals, and neurological syndromes.

"Everybody thinks this is something new, but in all actuality we've seen this for many years, that neurologic syndromes can occur following horses getting equineherpes virus type one," Holland said.

Holland said EHV-1 in mares looks very similar to flu symptoms, with fever and nasal discharge. If a mare is showing signs of a fever, Holland recommended placing that mare under quarantine.

"The interesting thing you will find out with these outbreaks is that it will move around in your barn," Holland said. "But I think you guys are pretty lucky because most of the horses are well vaccinated."

In the case of maiden mares coming to a farm from a racetrack, Holland suggested asking questions such as 'where has the mare been and what has she been near.'

In addition to quarantining any mares that are showing signs of the virus, Holland suggested taking daily temperatures or twice daily temperatures. He also recommended taking extra precautions when sanitizing the barn and equipment.

"Horses have a three- to seven-day incubation period if they have equineherpes virus one," he said. "So what you'll see is, you could have a horses come in and not show any signs and three to five days later have a fever and that could be equineherpes virus."

If the virus is suspected on a farm, Holland recommended speaking with a veterinarian about the farm's bio-security level and plan of action on how to deal with the virus.

"We're very lucky that this seems to be a very quiet year on the farms," Holland said.