Several horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association’s Western National Championships held April 29-May 8 in Ogden, Utah, have been diagnosed with equine herpesvirus type 1 (EVH-1), and veterinarians in several states are now evaluating the extent of the outbreak. Two horses associated with this outbreak have been euthanized after showing neurological symptoms.
EHV-1 causes a disease in horses called equine rhinopneumonitis. It is does not affect humans. EHV-1 usually causes respiratory symptoms with
fever, but it can also cause abortion, nervous system (neurologic) disease, or death.
Symptoms include fever, decreased co-ordination, 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 for EVH-1 but the symptoms can often be treated. When Kroni was sick this was one of the things they considered because he was showing neurological symptoms. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the disease and it is quite scary.
The virus can spread by contact with an infected animal, through contaminated equipment, or from a handler’s clothing and hands. It can also be spread on the air over a limited distance. Some horses can be carriers and show only mild clinical signs or none at all and still sporadically spread EVH-1.
Veterinarians are recommending that owners of horses that attended the event isolate their horses and monitor them for symptoms.