EHV-1 Case Confirmed at HITS Saugerties

All exposed horses have been quarantined and are being carefully monitored.
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One horse at HITS Saugerties show grounds tested positive for EHV-1 on Thursday, and all horses in Permanent Barn 9 are under quarantine.
One horse at HITS Saugerties show grounds tested positive for EHV-1 on Thursday, and all horses in Permanent Barn 9 are under quarantine. | Adobe Stock

On June 4, horse show officials at HITS Saugerties in Ulster County, New York, were made aware that a horse in Permanent Barn 9 was under observation and treatment for a possible pulled muscle in a hind limb. The horse was referred to Cornell University that evening for testing, isolation, and observation. The horse did not have and still has not presented with a temperature or any nasal discharge. 

All horses in Permanent Barn 9 were placed under immediate quarantine. Horses in Permanent Barn 9 under the care of the trainer with the indexed horse were voluntarily allowed to return home to begin a state-issued quarantine with isolation measures approved by state animal health officials. Those vacated stalls were immediately cleaned and disinfected. 

On June 6, the horse tested positive for EHV-1. The horse is reportedly walking around his stall at Cornell University. 

At this time, under the guidance of USEF and the state animal health official, horse showing will continue as scheduled. Owners and trainers are being advised to enforce biosecurity measures, take horses’ temperatures twice daily, isolate horses with clinical signs of illness, wash hands between handling horses, maintain distancing between horses, and abstain from sharing equipment. To exit the show grounds to other facilities, all horses must have their temperatures checked twice per day and not exhibit any fever or neurologic symptoms for at least 48 hours. 

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.

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