San Mateo County EHV-1 Count Grows By One More

Two horses have now experienced neurologic signs, with 17 experiencing fever only.
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San Mateo County EHV-1 Count Grows By One More
In many horses, the first or only sign of EHV-1 infection is fever, which can go undetected. | Stephanie L. Church/The Horse
On Feb. 16, officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) added yet another horse to the list of those confirmed with equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) since Jan. 28.

The newly affected horse, a 19-year-old draft-cross gelding, displayed fever without neurologic signs beginning on Feb. 16 and was isolated at the index premises along with other confirmed and exposed horses.

Two horses have now been confirmed with equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, or EHM (EHV-1 positive with neurologic signs) and 17 cases have been confirmed with fever and no neurologic signs.

The quarantine will remain in effect until all horses that tested positive receive two negative tests seven days apart. CDFA continues to monitor the outbreak.

EHV 101

Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and equine herpesvirus myeloencephalitis (EHM, the neurologic form).

equine herpesvirus
VIDEO | Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus

In many horses, the first or only sign of EHV-1 infection is fever, which can go undetected. In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months) but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.

Horses with EHM usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.

Herpesvirus is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse; sharing contaminated equipment including bits, buckets, and towels; or clothing, hands, or equipment of people who have recently had contact with an infectious horse. Routine biosecurity measures, including hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices, should be in place at all times to help prevent disease spread.

Current EHV-1 vaccines might reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurologic form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread, and the best method of disease control is disease prevention.

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