Nebraska’s state veterinarian is urging horse owners and show operators to be vigilant during an apparent increase in equine herpes virus (EHV-1) cases across the the US.
State veterinarian Dr Dennis Hughes said horse owners and show operators needed to exercise biosecurity measures at all events where horses were commingled.
California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee and Utah are currently dealing with confirmed cases of EHV-1.
“Nebraska does not have horses diagnosed with the disease at this time, and we’d prefer to keep it that way,” Hughes said.
“I encourage horse owners to take precautions to help prevent this disease from affecting our horse population.”
Hughes encouraged horse owners to follow biosecurity measures at their operations, including: requiring individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse; if possible, avoid contact with other people’s horses; disinfect boots and change clothes that come into contact with horses other than your own; and isolate horses returning from shows for two to three weeks.
“Owners who will be commingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses’ current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccinating their animals for EHV-1,” Hughes said.
The disease is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected horses.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture encouraged operators of horse shows and exhibitions to review their biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other. Indirect contact included the use of shared water and feed sources as well as the use of shared equipment.
Hughes recommended that horse owners planning to travel to shows/exhibitions contact the venue prior to transporting their horses to inquire about entrance requirements for the event.
EHV-1 symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy and the inability to rise.
While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.