EHV Paradigm Shift Part 1: National Case Reporting System Coordinated Through USDA Begins

The Jurga Report has received information from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and American Horse Council (AHC) explaining a change in the way that the current horse virus outbreak will be handled. At the AAEP and AHC’s initiative,? horses believed to be exposed to the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) (meaning those who attended an event held in Utah earlier this month) will now be monitored through a national case reporting system.

This article will explain the first of two areas of information conveyed by the AAEP and AHC today, and is specific to the testing and reporting of cases only. A second article on The Jurga Report discusses AAEP/AHC advice on interstate transport of horses.

According to AAEP/AHC, a guidance document was sent to State Animal Health Officials and Area Veterinarians in Charge (AVIC) in each state on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Service (VS).

The document from the AAEP/AHC contained this information:

In response to confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) and Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) in horses that attended a cutting horse event in Ogden, Utah held from April 29 to May 8, 2011, the American Horse Council (AHC) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) contacted the USDA:APHIS:VS and requested federal coordination for data collection, dissemination, and communication efforts among state and federal veterinarians. The purpose of collecting this data is to protect the health of horses and mitigate the economic implications of further EHV-1 transmission to horses not yet affected.

In response, USDA:APHIS:VS has reached out to State Animal Health Officials, federal Area-Veterinarians-In-Charge (AVICs) and private practitioners to collect current information on the EHV-1 disease incident and develop a coordinated response among state, federal and industry partners.? The full scope of the current EHV-1 situation and a complete accounting for the number of horses affected and/or exposed is underway.

“We want to applaud the quick response and efforts of the USDA:APHIS:VS,” said William A. Moyer, DVM, 2011 AAEP president. “Having the support and coordination of this effort by the USDA:APHIS:VS working in collaboration with State Animal Health Officials, will be key in providing accurate and timely information to the equine and veterinary communities during this outbreak.”

“USDA can play a critical and timely role in collecting, verifying, and disseminating accurate information to state animal health officials and industry partners,” said Jay Hickey, President of the American Horse Council.? “These efforts are essential to mitigating the health and economic implications of this current EHV-1 situation. Misinformation can often be an epidemic in and of itself.? This latest disease incident only underscores the importance of implementing a pro-active national equine health program.”

USDA and State Animal Health Officials have initiated an investigation and incident response effort.? The USDA plans to release the initial report through summarization of information provided by the State Animal Health Officials and AVIC’s including the number of horses suspected and confirmed as EHV-1 cases and EHM cases along with fatalities in the coming days. The USDA will update and release future reports on the current EHV-1 outbreak on a weekly basis.? If the current incident results in wide-spread exposure or a large influx of infected horses, the USDA will provide that information as it becomes available.

Practitioners are encouraged to notify their State Animal Health Official of suspect or confirmed cases of EHV-1 and EHM.? The State Animal Health Officials can assist with guidelines on diagnostic testing and management to reduce risk of spread of EHV-1.

There have been numerous scientific articles citing a wide variation in the number of suspect and confirmed cases of the EHV-1 and the neurological form of the disease (EHM) in horses.? This large disparity in reported information underscores the importance of allowing USDA and State Animal Health Officials to collect data, based on the use of consistent case definitions, to then verify information gathered and disseminate factual summary information.

Please refer to part 2 of this article for more information from the AAEP and AHC.




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