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Keeping Horsepeople informed

EHV-1 Recap in L.A. D

r. Kent Fowler of the California Department of Food and Agriculture returned to Los Angeles April 17 to

address trainers, horse owners and facility operators about the Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1), a health threat that became intimate- ly familiar to the area aſt er an outbreak last fall. The “all-clear” was issued months ago, but knowledge of the virus’s detection, treat- ment and mitigation are invaluable going for- ward wherever horses reside. Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is the designa- tion given to a horse showing neurologic dys- function caused by the EHV-1 virus.

Early Detection When potential exposure to the virus is

suspected, Dr. Fowler instructs that tem- peratures be taken twice daily. The temps should not be taken aſt er the horse has been worked, as you may record an elevated temperature due to the recent exercise. Also, temperatures should not be taken immedi- ately aſt er the horse has received medica- tions, as this, too, may cause an increase or

Immediate Treatment If a horse is running a signifi cant fever—

over 101.5 degrees—call your veterinarian. Quick action can help with the severity of symptoms. EHV-1 is contagious, and the CDFA recommends immediate isolation for a febrile (feverish) horse. It limits the trans- mission of the virus to other horses.

Isolation A horse with compatible EHV-1 symptoms

should be isolated immediately to a stall that is not in contact with other horses, or should be moved off the premises and isolated from other horses. Any horse that tests EHV-1 positive should be isolated immediately. The test (nasal swab and/or blood) result is reported by the lab to your veterinarian.

Dr. Kent Fowler of the

CDFA discusses facts and reminders after last fall’s viral episode in Los Angeles

Other facts and observations: • A horse with neurologic dysfunction

caused by the EHV-1 is classifi ed as an EHM case. An EHM diagnosis results in a regulato- ry quarantine in California and many states. • Since May of 2011, in California there has been 33 premises aff ected with EHM. • Most young horses are exposed to the EHV virus. They may carry the virus for many years and recrudescence may occur in horses that are stressed, ill or aged. • Both strains of EHV-1 (the neuropatho-

genic or mutant strain and the non-neuro- pathogenic or wild strain) can cause neuro- logic dysfunction in the aff ected horse. • No vaccine is labeled to prevent EHM.

There is controversy over the eff ectiveness of vaccines for EHV-1 and the interval that those vaccines should be administered. The vaccine may lessen the viral load in an aff ected horse and thereby create a less serious illness. The virus moves in the blood and may damage blood vessels in the spinal cord and brain. This leads to the neurologic symptoms noted in an EHM case. • There is a need for a national testing

standard for laboratories conducting EHV-1 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing. • The virus is easily destroyed by alcohol,

sunlight, heat or bleach. • EHV-1 virus is not contagious to humans.

Moving forward, Dr. Fowler also pointed

out that the horseshowing public needs to encourage show grounds managers to enhance their bio-security, and encourage that only healthy horses be transported to a show.

More online:

Continued monitoring of exposed horses In large barns, it is advised to implant a

biothermal microchip in the middle third neck crest of the horse. This makes it possible to take temperatures rapidly and accurately. However, if your horse is already micro-chipped, a second microchip should not be implanted. Check with your vet.

decrease in body temperature for the horse. It’s important to know how to use a ther- mometer correctly and how to shake it down before taking a rectal temperature.

Enhanced Bio-Security This is a critical part of containing the

spread of the virus. For a complete under- standing and instructions go to:

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