Equine Herpes Virus Confirmed in Utah and Illinois Horses

A single barn of horses is under quarantine and two horses are dead after positive tests for Equine Herpes Virus at Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois, according to updated reports in the Daily Racing Form. Further west, two horses have been euthanized in Utah, in what appears to be a separate, unrelated outbreak.


Here’s a press release with the precise advice of the state officials in Utah:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is investigating one confirmed case of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in the state, and has placed a quarantine on a farm in Cache County. Two other horses at the location were euthanized after showing neurological signs consistent with the disease.

EHV-1 is not transmissible to people.

This highly contagious disease in horses spreads rapidly and can result in the death of the animal. The disease can cause respiratory, neurologic disease and death.

The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. The virus can also spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands. With the exception of the index and direct contact horses, no other horses, to date, have become ill with similar signs. Because of the highly contagious nature of this disease other cases may surface in the coming days.

Horse owners are advised to quickly report symptoms to their veterinarian. Event coordinators for upcoming horse events should contact their show veterinarian for recommendations concerning the event.

“As a precaution to Utah horse owners, I advise they take extra biosecurity steps to safeguard the health of their animals, said State Veterinarian, Dr. Bruce King. “Don’t let your horses touch other horses, especially nose to nose. Isolate horses that return to the farm from a show or event,” added Dr. King.

An expended list of biosecurity tips is available at: USDA-APHIS Biosecurity: The key to keeping your horses healthy Equine Herpes Virus symptoms include

  • fever,
  • decreased coordination,
  • nasal discharge,
  • urine dribbling,
  • loss of tail tone,
  • hind limb weakness,
  • leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance,
  • lethargy,
  • the inability to rise.

While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable. Horse owners should watch their horses carefully and call their veterinarian if any abnormal signs are observed.

Additional Resources:What is Equine Herpes Virus (EHV)? (USDA/APHIS document)Frequently Asked Questions about Equine Herpes Virus-1USDA-APHIS Biosecurity:?The key to keeping your horses healthy




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