California Equine Herpes Virus: Two New Cases Reported, Linked to Possible Horse Show Exposure

Just when you thought it was safe to put away the thermometer…

Earlier this week, The Jurga Report featured an article on the return of horse shows in southern California last weekend, after a long quarantine in the area after two outbreaks of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV). The all clear was so clear that everyone at the Rancho Valencia Dressage Affaire at Del Mar had to wear shades.

Two days later, the state web site is buzzing again. Two new cases of EHV have been announced in California.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture hosts a web site where disease outbreaks are posted and where horse owners can find information about the diseases that have been diagnosed. The site has been busy during the past year, when several outbreaks in different parts of the state have been monitored.

The first case was south of San Francisco, in Monterey County. On Wednesday, state officials reported that a gelding was displaying hind limb ataxia (incoordination) and had tested positive for the non-neuropathogenic strain of Equine Herpesvirus -1 (EHV-1). The state added, “This strain of virus is responsible for the more common respiratory EHV-1 cases.? A small percentage of non-neuropathogenic EHV-1 infected horses can display neurologic signs and are classified as equine herpes myeloencephalopathy cases which is a reportable condition in California. The positive horse has been quarantined and is under veterinary care.”

CDFA has initiated an investigation and owners of exposed horses are asked to take temperatures twice daily and monitor for clinical signs. But that’s not the end of the story.

The very next day, another alert appeared on the CDFA web site. This time, the spotlight was back on San Diego County, not far from the site of the longest quarantine, in nearby Orange County, which had been in effect in January and February, at a facility in San Juan Capistrano. This case was also a gelding, who also displayed hind limb ataxia.

The San Diego County horse also was confirmed as positive for the non-neuropathogenic form of EHV-1.

State officials then announced that both horses had been competing at the HITS Thermal show, which is also in southern California but in inland Riverside County near Palm Springs. They issued this advice for HITS Thermal competitors:

“The two confirmed positive non-neuropathogenic Equine Herpes Virus-1 horses with neurologic signs were potentially exposed during the last week (March 5-11, 2012) of the HITS Horse Show ?in Thermal, CA. ??This strain of virus is responsible for the more common EHV-1 respiratory infection.? CDFA recommends that?horses?stabled in Tents 22 and 34 during the last week of the?Thermal?show be closely observed and have their temperature monitored twice daily.”

State officials said on Thursday that the two new cases have no connection to previous cases in Orange or Riverside counties.




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