California Horse Confirmed With Neurologic EHV

The Santa Barbara County gelding was euthanized due to the severity of his clinical signs.

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California Horse Confirmed With Neurologic EHV
The Santa Barbara County gelding was euthanized due to the severity of his clinical signs. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On Jan. 9, officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) confirmed a 21-year-old Quarter Horse gelding in Santa Barbara County with the neurologic form of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), also known as equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM). The gelding began showing clinical signs of ataxia (incoordination), fever, and recumbency (inability to rise) on Jan. 4. He was euthanized Jan. 9 due to the severity of his signs. The two remaining horses at the index premises have been quarantined and enhanced biosecurity measures enacted, including twice-daily temperature monitoring. No horses recently moved on or off the property, and CDFA continues to monitor the situation.

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.

equine herpesvirus
RELATED CONTENT | 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 the neurologic form 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

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