A number of cases of Equine Herpes Virus have been reported across the U.S. and while no horses in Nebraska have yet been diagnosed, State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes is urging horse owners to take precautions.
The warning applies to horse owners, operators of horse shows and other exhibitions or any place where horses are co-mingling. The disease is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected horses, so Hughes encourages operators of horse shows/exhibitions to review their biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other.
Symptoms of the virus 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. There is no cure, but symptoms may be treatable.
According to Hughes, two horses -- one from Wisconsin and one from Kansas -- recently were diagnosed with EHV-1. The two horses had been at a competition held at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln in April.
Precautions that horse owners can take to reduce chances of infection include: require individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse; disinfect boots and change clothes that come into contact with horses other than your own; if possible, avoid contact with other people’s horses; and isolate horses returning from shows for two to three weeks.
“Owners who will be co-mingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses’ current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccinating their animals for EHV-1,” said Hughes.