Oklahoma Quarter Horse Positive for EHM

The horse is quarantined at a veterinary hospital in Tulsa County.
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A Quarter Horse in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is positive for EHM, and additional exposed horses have become febrile.
A Quarter Horse in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is positive for EHM, and additional exposed horses have become febrile. | Wikimedia Commons

On April 5, a Quarter Horse in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, was confirmed positive for equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM). The horse developed clinical signs on April 1, including hind limb weakness, recumbency, and urine retention. It is now quarantined at a veterinary hospital. 

Three other horses that were exposed in the isolation barn with the EHM case became febrile and will finish their quarantine at the veterinary clinic. One horse that was also exposed in the hospital isolation barn became febrile and is now quarantined on its home premises, where three other horses reside. Of these three horses, one became febrile and tested positive for EHV. All horses will remain under quarantine until state requirements for release are met. 

EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.

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 EHM.

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.

Brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim, The Art of the Horse

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