EQUINE HERPES VIRUS-1 IN VIRGINIA: Update

Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

The following information is provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia:

February 23, 2007

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is taking precautionary measures and quarantining additional farms in Virginia due to an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1). Previously, VDACS quarantined the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) in Leesburg and one farm in Loudoun County.

In the hours following discovery of a horse possibly infected with EHV-1 at the EMC, both Virginia and Maryland learned of additional horses that may have had contact with that animal. Both states are conducting investigations and doing trace-backs on at-risk horses. Virginia is placing more quarantines today.

This represents a total of approximately 175 horses under quarantine, only three of which have shown neurological signs of EHV-1. One of those horses resides in Fauquier County and two in Loudoun County.

EHV-1 in a highly contagious disease that presents no known health threat to humans, but humans can spread it from farm to farm on their clothing, shoes, tires, or equipment. To enhance bio-security, VDACS has cancelled the Casanova Hunt Club Point-to-Point and the Casanova Hunter Pace events this weekend because of their proximity to a quarantined premises.

Dr. Richard Wilkes, Virginia State Veterinarian, said, "We are being very conservative in our approach and are quarantining farms that have horses on the premises that were at the equine center during the possible contagious period. The quarantines are precautionary measures and do not mean there are sick horses on the premises. No horse on a Virginia premises outside the equine center has been confirmed to have EHV-1, but we have tested some horses on contact farms that have fevers and no other signs and one horse that has neurological signs. We expect to receive test results early next week. This aggressive approach is to try and contain any possible exposure while we assess the risk that this event holds for our horse industry. Virginia horse-owners need to understand that we are being proactive and pre-emptive at this time to protect our state's horse industry. We have cancelled a couple of equine events to add another measure of protection."

Wilkes added, "We are working with faculty at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at their Blacksburg and Marion duPont Scott facilities, the Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners, USDA, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture to be sure that we take responsible, effective action to control EHV-1."

Wilkes encourages activity planners to consider upcoming events in Northern Virginia carefully and to postpone all non-essential ones to minimize the occasions where horses co-mingle. The mixing and mingling of horses has the potential to compromise bio-security as they move from area to area.

Quarantines will restrict movement on and off the affected facilities. In addition, veterinarians are urging horse owners to observe strict hygiene control procedures to avoid spreading the disease in the environment. This includes a thorough cleaning and disinfecting routine using a proven disinfectant/cleaner.

Editor's Note: An informational meeting is being held at Morven Park today (2/24) for local veterinarians. An informational meeting for the horse community will be held at the Best Western in Leesburg from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, February 26, according to an article in the Leesburg Times.