A boarding stable near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada reports that a horse with neurological disease symptoms has tested positive for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). Veterinarians from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon are assisting with the case.
The boarding stable initiated a voluntary quarantine, and the sick horse is being treated in isolation. Equine Herpes Virus has been reported across the United States this winter, but there is no suggestion that this case in Canada is related to any US outbreaks.
Quarantines in Texas, Florida and Virginia were lifted this week as mandatory isolation periods expired for premises in the United States that have housed horses with EHV. The virus is well known to horse owners in the Saskatoon area, and at the vet school.
Twice in the past ten years--in 2008 and 2011--the large animal hospital at the vet school has been closed because of horses with EHV.
An announcement from the veterinary college reminded horse owners of the basic facts about EHV and EHV-1: "EHV-1 is a common equine virus to which nearly all horses are exposed during their lifetime. EHV-1 usually causes mild respiratory disease, but in some cases, the virus can spread to other parts of the body.
"In rare cases, the virus can affect the nervous system and cause the neurological form of EHV-1 to develop. It can also cause abortions in pregnant mares.
"EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans and most animal species, but the virus is highly contagious among horses and camelids (llamas and alpacas). It’s mostly spread by direct contact, i.e. horses coming into contact with one another.
"Indirect contact (e.g. sharing contaminated equipment or people moving between horses without adequate hygiene procedures) and aerosol transmission over close distances (e.g. when horses cough and form infectious droplets) may also contribute."
While spring may be coming to the much of North America, it was 19 degrees and snowing in Saskatoon today.
The University of Saskatchewan Equine Research Fund advises horse owners to review their question-and-answer document for Equine Herpes Virus.