Protect horses against disease, including EHV-1 |

Protect horses against disease, including EHV-1

Horse in stable
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This time of year typically kicks off horseback riding, jackpots, horse shows, rodeos and other horse events and the Colorado Department of Agriculture reminds horse owners to protect their horses this season.

Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1)

March 26, 2014, the Colorado state veterinarian’s office was notified by the Colorado State University Diagnostic Laboratory that a Larimer County horse tested positive for EHV-1. The facility where the horse is stabled is under quarantine. The horse is undergoing treatment and others it may have come into contact with are being monitored but are not showing clinical signs of the disease at this point. Other cases have been reported in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon this spring.

“The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact but it can also spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands; this certainly highlights the importance of practicing basic biosecurity practices,” said Colorado state veterinarian Keith Roehr. “Equine event organizers should continue to practice routine biosecurity practices that are effective in prevention of EHV and other horse diseases as well.”

Symptoms of EHV-1 include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable. EHV-1 is not transmissible to people, but in horses it can cause respiratory and neurologic disease and death.

Basic biosecurity practices can reduce the risk of exposure to diseases, such as EHV-1. Key points of a biosecurity plan include isolating new animals and those returning to the home premises, supplying clean feed and water, implementing infection-control practices for visitors and personnel and avoiding movement from various locations if possible. Especially important is the isolation of any sick horses. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarian if sickness appears in their herd.

“Effective biosecurity practices lead to fewer health problems for animals and contribute to a longer and better-quality life for the horse,” said Roehr. “When you’re traveling with horses, something as simple as a clean water bucket that you don’t share with other people’s horses can greatly affect disease movement.”

–Colorado Dept. of Agriculture

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