Monday, May 16, 2011

Rhino EHV-1

If you're a horse-person you've been hearing it everywhere... EHV.  The current out-break is widespread.  Borders are being closed from state to state and between the US and Canada.
There are a few scary things about this outbreak; the speed it has, the ease of transmission, the fact that there is NO vaccine for the neurological strain.

So far there are no cases in my immediate area **furiously knocking wood** however it is in my province (Saskatchewan) as well as Alberta and British Columbia and quite a few states.

Facilities are being quarantined, either by choice to preserve their herd health or to contain outbreaks and many events are being cancelled.  If you travel with your horse for fun or to show/compete check ahead to see if your event is still on or the area is accessible.

Commentary from The Equid Blog

Drs Scott Weese and Maureen Anderson , authors of the Equid Blog, from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada, were monitoring the situation today and offered a sage summary of the week’s events.
“Whether or not the show is where the horses were first infected is unclear, but it makes sense because any time you mix together large numbers of horses, and stress them through shipping, competition, management changes and other factors, infectious disease exposure risks rise. This may be particularly true for EHV-1, since the virus is lying dormant within a large percentage of healthy horses. Most of the time, infected horses are not shedding the virus, but shedding can occur if horses are stressed or sick.

“EHV outbreaks and quarantines seem to be much more commonly reported over the past couple of years. Whether that’s because of a true increase in disease or an increase in publicity and response to disease is unclear. There has been a big change in our understanding of how EHV-1 “works,” through identification of a mutation in some strains that makes them more likely to cause neurological disease (and outbreaks).

“Tests are now available for this mutation, and this strain may be increasingly common. However, this strain doesn’t always cause neurological disease, and strains without the mutation can still cause neurological disease, so it’s not a completely clear situation. I suspect that we are truly seeing some increase in disease, but we are seeing an equal (or greater) increase in response to single cases or small outbreaks, with quarantines and press releases that would have been rare not too long ago.

“EHV-1 is all over the place and complete avoidance of it is impossible. Good general infection control practices to limit the spread of the virus when it is being shed by horses, and prompt identification and isolation of horses with EHV infection are important but often overlooked control measures.”
Type in red is quoted from the Equid Blog. Both Dr Weese and Dr Anderson are large animal internal medicine specialists with expertise in infectious diseases and infection control. Their blog is an excellent source of equine health information.

Here are some things to keep in mind:
*Affected horses will often have a temperature spike in excess of 102 F before clinical signs are presented
*Indications can include nasal discharge, lots of sneezing, excessive eye blinking, lack of urine output, elevated temperature, very weak coordination in the hind end, discoordination, recumbency, lethargy and diminished tail tone
*Incubation period is usually 2-10 days but there are cases emerging at 12 days after exposure
*Possible ways to expose your horse to it are horse-to-horse contact, aerosol transmission, and contaminated hands, equipment, tack, and feed.
*Cross contamination can NOT be stressed enough!  This deadly virus can be on A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. - your steering wheel in your truck, door handles, trailer latches, your purse, your hat, sunglasses, cell phone, pop or food wrapper, bucket, feed pan, hay bag, rubber bands, brushes, tack, boots, clothing, ANYTHING you touch or rub against could have the virus on it!

Here's a link to another good article:

There's a lot of info out there, and there will probably be a lot of fear-mongering as well.  Do your research, use your smarts and common sense and be careful about protecting your horses from exposure!
I have a farrier appointment, I'm either going to cancel it or ask him about what he does to prevent contamination - just mentioning it because farriers and vets are a source of possible contamination we horse people often overlook.


  1. Good information about a lousy topic.

  2. Yeaaa...that probably means I will not be going to that 2 day barrel race this coming weekend.

    Two confirmed cases in Colorado...albet the other side of the state and they are cutting horses that attended the Ogden event. However, there are more under quarantine and apparently right here in Mesa county.

    I was looking for the article about the barrel horse barn in Colorado that is now in quarantine and cannot find anything about it.

  3. Pretty scary stuff considering that the virus can be passed so easily.

  4. None in our area (yet) and here I am leaving for the clinic on Friday. I feel very bad for all the people and horses affected by this.

  5. I hjave to find out if there are any in our area- but it sure did make me sit up and take notice. My practice is small- none of the animals leave their property to compete anywhere. BUT.

    BUT..... vet checks, horse people at the feed store passing things along, etc etc... as you pointed out- the contaminants can be anywhere. Scary stuff.

  6. The Barrel o rama last weekend had horses from all over Alberta; sure hope they were all clean. The only horse I touched was a local one.

  7. Pretty scary, we went to practice at an arena on Friday that ussually has horses thet went to Ogden practice there too, we are just hoping that none there were carrying it.

  8. First confirmed case of this in Western WA today. It's near my BFF and where I grew up.

    I've asked my LL to give me a heads up before he takes on ANY boarders so I can bring my two home first. Better safe than sorry!


Wordless Wednesday ~ new trailer!