Controlling EHV-1 Outbreaks: Best Practices

EHV-1 can spread between horses before they show any signs of infection, creating a potential perfect storm for a significant disease outbreak. An infectious disease expert shares steps you can take to stop disease spread.
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controlling ehv-1
EHV-1 can spread between horses before they show any signs of infection, so act on suspicion and isolate potentially affected horses while awaiting diagnostic testing results. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

When a veterinarian suspects a horse has the neurologic form of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), it’s imperative he or she take the appropriate diagnostic and control measures to prevent an outbreak of this often fatal infectious disease. This is because EHV-1 can spread between horses before they show any signs of infection, creating a “potential perfect storm,” said Richard Newton, BVSc, MSc, PhD, FRCVS, during the 2018 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 12-15, in Birmingham, U.K.

Newton is the director of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance at the Animal Health Trust, in Newmarket, U.K. In his presentation he described how to manage EHV-1 cases and outbreaks.

Neurologic EHV-1 101

Neurologic EHV-1 is a contagious viral disease that can cause signs of ataxia (incoordination), weakness, paralysis, difficulty urinating and defecation, and recumbency (an inability to rise). It spreads via horse-to-horse contact, contaminated hands and equipment, and possibly through aerosolization, said Newton

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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