UPDATE: E.S. Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager in the State Veterinarian's Office in Kentucky shared news later today that this outbreak has caused the death of four horses "with four additional horses demonstrating similar symptoms". "Earlier today we learned that preliminary diagnostic testing gives evidence that one or more of these sick horses may have contracted Equine Herpes Virus Type-1 (EHV-1)," he added. According to Ford's report, one horse from Kentucky that was on the ride has died. A horse or horses from Mississippi were also at the ride. Ford's report of interest to Kentucky horse owners and equine event management personnel is now online.
Bucksnort Trail Rides, host of the trail ride, has also issued a letter to horse owners and riders to let them know that they are cooperating with Tennessee state officials. Bucksnort will be closed for the next 30 days and has cancelled the Memorial Day Ride.
Please contact your veterinarian if your horse was at that ride or if your horse has been in contact with outside horses recently and is showing unusual symptoms.
The following information from the State of Tennessee is published for your information:
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) has received reports of suspected cases of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) infection in horses that participated in a recent trail ride in Tennessee.
Six to eight suspected cases of the neurological form of EHV-1 have been reported to the state veterinarian's office. Horses are being treated, isolated and monitored by their attending veterinarian(s).
The horses may have been exposed to EHV-1 during the Bucksnort Trail Ride held April 23-30 in Humphreys County, Tennessee. The event drew approximately 100 horses from multiple states. The movement of horses that attended the event is being restricted on a case by case basis.
TDA animal health officials are working with event organizers, neighboring state veterinarians and private veterinarians to identify other horses that may have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms.
As a precaution, Tennessee State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher recommends that horse owners who participated in the Bucksnort event work with their veterinarians to restrict movement and to monitor their horses. Hatcher also recommends that isolation and monitoring continue for 28 days if any clinical signs of disease are observed. Veterinarians should report suspected neurological cases of EHV-1 to the Tennessee State Veterinarian's office at 615-837-5120.
Equine Herpes Virus is highly contagious among horses but poses no threat to humans. The symptoms in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness, dribbling of urine and diminished tail tone. The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated. The virus can cause aborted foals and can be fatal in some cases.
The State Veterinarian also recommends that horse owners practice good biosecurity such as using your own trailer and equipment, not letting your horses touch other people's horses, disinfecting shoes and equipment, washing hands after helping others with their horses and limiting access to your farm.
Animal health updates and alerts are also available on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's website.