Roundup of Equine Herpes Virus News: State, Provincial, Veterinary Updates

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The outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus cases? following the cutting event ten days ago in Ogden, Utah has created an overload of news. We couldn't possibly post all the press releases, and yet the information is critical to you if you live in one of the states affected by the outbreak of EHV.

This outbreak may be a tempest in a teacup or a true crisis, but it is surely showing us how the communication system would work in a real emergency. The information in this article is a compilation of extracts from press releases and web postings for Monday and Tuesday, May 16-17, 2011. In most cases, these are direct quotes. In certain places, I have praised the way that the Internet or new media was used by the news provider.

I hope these highlights will help you get the "big picture" of the outbreak as well as the sharp focus of a single location if that is important to you or a horse you know.

Please note: The news changes daily, sometimes hourly, especially in terms of state restrictions on horse transport. Be sure to check with your state veterinarian's office (usually part of the department of agriculture and/or livestock) for the very latest and most accurate information. EHV is a reportable disease in some states and not in others, so the response of state officials varies.

News from Arizona: No Official News Available from State

  • A news report from the Phoenix area suggests that there are cases confirmed in Arizona; CBS Channel 5 has put together a good video for horse owners, although the state web site has no information.
  • For horse owners in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, Chapparal Veterinary Medical Center will host a public information center tonight (May 18) at 7 pm at the clinic, which is at 32100 N. Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331. Note: There is no information on the clinic's web page and the clinic's blog has not been updated. The only way to find out about this event is to go to the clinic's page on Facebook. To attend, you would need to RSVP to 480-595-8600.
  • No official news from state authorities in Arizona could be confirmed, however the National Cutting Horse Association's most recent press release indicates that an infected horse or horses is/are in Arizona.
  • Adobe Veterinary Center in Tucson is making excellent use of their blog, on which they wrote: "Although there are no confirmed cases in Arizona, there are some strong suspects in the Mayer area which is in northern Arizona." They also have a Facebook page but are referring people from there to their blog. The blog also says that horse shows in Arizona are being cancelled.
  • The NACHA canceled its May 22nd cutting. On the Association web site is the note, "Due to the recent virus which is?infecting our horses, vets statewide say to keep?them home and away from contact with other horses.? We are being very precautious as a few horses from the Odgen show have been fatally infected."

News from California: Ten Cases, One Dead

  • Late on Tuesday, the State of California issued a press release confirming that ten horses in five counties in the state have tested posted for EHM and that 24 of the exhibitors at the Utah cutting event were from California. One horse has been euthanized. Sick or infected horses are located in Kern, Placer, Stanislaus, Amador and Napa counties.
  • The memo said that the state plans to quarantine "all California horses that have been in contact with an infected horse and show signs of disease or test positive for EHM. "
  • The following is an excerpt from a May 17 statement prepared by faculty of the Equine Medicine Service at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine:
  • "During the past week in Colorado, there have been at least two confirmed cases of equine herpes-1 infection in horses that competed at the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah. Other horses that competed in Ogden, Utah were transported to the Kern Country Cutting Horse Association show in Bakersfield, California, and some of these horses became ill, with one horse being euthanized at the fairgrounds.
  • "One horse was transported from Bakersfield to the isolation facility at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine). Another horse that attended the Ogden show was also sent to UC Davis. Both of these horses have been confirmed as positive for EHV-1. In addition, as of today, at least 4 additional horses in various areas of Northern California have been confirmed as positive for EHV-1.
  • "Currently, the two horses mentioned above are being treated under maximum isolation. These horses have no contact with other horses at the hospital. Because of the presence of EHV-1 in the community, the VMTH is taking every precaution to prevent EHV-1 entry into the general hospital. Every horse admitted to the hospital is being tested for EHV-1 and full biosecurity precautions are in force during the next few weeks as necessary."
  • Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center in Northern California had an interesting message on the clinic's web site: "We do not currently have any suspect or confirmed cases in the hospital, and we have made the decision to not accept these horses at our facility for the protection of our other hospitalized patients. We have assembled a separate team of our veterinarians and staff that are available to help our clients with infected horses on their own premises only. As always, please call us if you have ANY questions regarding prevention or suspect cases. We are here to help all of our clients get through this scary situation." The hospital's information on EHV was posted right on their home page. It was easy to see at a quick glance and equally easy to understand.
  • Read more about California's situation on The Jurga Report.

News from Colorado: Two Cases, One Dead, More Diagnoses Pending

May 17, 2011:

  • The State of Colorado is restricting entry of horses into the state. Standard requirements for horses entering Colorado include a health certificate issued within 30 days of their arrival and a negative Coggins test within 12 months.
  • The new requirement consists of a permit to enter the state. Horse owners who wish to bring their horses into Colorado must first call their veterinarian.? That veterinarian can then contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture's State Veterinarian's Office at (303) 239-4161 and request a permit number.? That number would then be included on the health certificate.
  • Full revised information for bringing a horse into Colorado has been posted on the state government's Department of Agriculture web site.
  • Also in Colorado, EventingNation.com reported that the Spring Gulch Horse Trials in Littleton would have to be cancelled because of the outbreak of EHV.

May 16, 2011: (Information provided by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University)

  • 2 confirmed cases of equines with EHV-1.
  • 6 additional exposed horses are showing clinical signs of EVH-1.
  • Currently horses in four different counties (Boulder, Larimer, Mesa, and Weld) are being investigated for the disease and are under hold or quarantine orders.
  • One horse, which tested positive for EHV-1, was euthanized after showing severe neurological signs associated with the disease.? A second horse was euthanized with similar symptoms but test results have not been confirmed at this point.? The others are currently under treatment by veterinarians and in biosecure locations.
  • Both confirmed EHV-1 positive horses had recently attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah.? The Colorado Department of Agriculture is working with the Utah State Veterinarian to investigate the location as a point of interest for the infection.
  • This disease investigation is ongoing and constantly being updated.
    Read the full news release with advice for all horse owners from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr.
  • Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine announced that the equine section of its Veterinary Teaching Hospital was rescheduling appointments and would be seeing horses only for emergencies, as reported in this story on The Jurga Report.
  • Also at Colorado, the Equine Science Center cancelled riding clinics with Greg Best and Todd Crawford.
  • Colorado has by far the heaviest media coverage of the outbreak. Television, radio and newspaper accounts are available on line, with varying detail and consistency.

News from Idaho: Two horses dead, additional possible cases

  • Dr. Bill Barton, State Veterinarian, reported on Monday that two Idaho horses that had traveled to the cutting event in Utah had died and several others were currently under the care of veterinarians.
  • Dr. Barton is recommending horse owners incorporate strict movement controls or containment methods to prevent the spread of the disease.? "If you participated in this event, or have contact with horses that traveled to this event, you should notify your veterinarian and isolate and monitor these horses for a minimum of 21 days for clinical signs of the disease," warned Dr. Barton. Read the full news release with advice for all horse owners from Dr Barton, State Veterinarian for Idaho
  • Idaho Equine Hospital in Nampa reported on their excellent blog: "As of today, May 16th we do not have any new clinical cases of EHV-1 that we are aware of in our area. We are closely monitoring horses on the farms that had clinical cases and as of 3 pm no horses on those farms have developed fevers or any associated clinical signs.
  • Also reported by Idaho Equine Hospital on May 16th: "The state is not imposing any quarantines at this time and horse travel to and from the state has not been restricted. Any quarantined farms have done so at their own discretion."
  • On May 14, Idaho Equine Hospital reported on their blog: "Idaho Equine Hospital has seen two horses from the Ogden show with signs of EHV 1. Horses that could have been exposed have been identified and the owners contacted. Isolation and serial temperatures are the best safety and monitoring guidelines. Vaccination post exposure and the use of anti-viral medication can be considered. Idaho Equine Hospital is working with State Health officials to get accurate information out to all horse owners."
  • Idaho Equine Hospital has done an outstanding job of keeping both its local customers and the entire world informed about what is going on locally and regionally during the outbreak and also has been providing excellent prevention and biosecurity information.

News from Kansas: No information available to public

News from Montana: No cases reported to public

On May 17, the Montana Department of Livestock reported in two press releases:

  • "Sixteen horse owners and 30-35 horses from Montana attended the event. No cases of the disease have been reported within the state."
  • "The department on Tuesday fielded a number of calls regarding the outbreak, and also responded to rumors about positive cases within the state."
  • "EHV is a serious disease, and horse owners are understandably concerned," said Montana state veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski. "Fortunately, no known or suspected cases of the disease have been reported here in Montana, although we will continue monitoring the situation."

News from Nebraska: No cases reported to public, quarantines levied

News from Nevada: No cases reported to public

News from New Mexico: Two suspected cases

  • The New Mexico Livestock Board had a clearly organized home page with a large graphic signifying Equine Herpes Virus Alert. It was easy to spot. It lead to a press release with critical information written in a straightforward manner? from the Office of the State Veterinarian:
  • "Currently, there are two suspected cases in New Mexico; one case in the Albuquerque area and one case in the Hobbs area."
  • "All known horses that attended the event in Ogden, Utah are under a voluntary quarantine. At this time, we have not identified the location of all potentially exposed horses as reports are still being received."
  • The Office recommends "rescheduling of all major equine events (gatherings of large numbers of horses) for at least the next 7 - 10 days."

News from Oklahoma: No cases reported to the public

News from Oregon: One case reported (updated May 18)

  • From an Oregon Department of Agriculture press release: "As of noon on May 18, 2011, Oregon has one confirmed case of the neugological herpes virus (Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy) or EHM, out of a number of horses that attended or participated in the cutting event held in Ogden, Utah from April 30 through May 8, 2011."
  • "This confirmed case is directly linked to the cutting event held in Utah."
  • "There are no restrictions on the movement of non-exposed horses within Oregon at this time."
  • "Effective immediately EHM is a reportable disease to the state veterinarian. For clinical or suspect cases please call and report to Dr. Don Hansen, State Veterinarian at (503) 986-4680, immediately."
  • In a press release dated May 17, Dr. Don Hansen, state veterinarian with the Oregon Department of Agriculture said that he had "alerted a statewide network of veterinarians about the disease, asking them to work with their equine clients to develop plans that can help prevent EHV-1 in their horses and to report any potential cases."

News from Texas: No cases reported to the public

  • Hooray for Texas; the EHV warning is at the very top of their Animal Health Commission's main home page. It says very plainly and clearly:
  • "Texas does not currently have any confirmed cases of EHV-1. The TAHC has no plans to change entry requirements for equine animals or to cancel any equine events at the present time. There has been no indication of spread outside of horses that attended the NCHA Western National Championships in Odgen."
  • TAHC also has a one-page information sheet on the EHV situation and links to more information about the virus.
  • Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery in Weatherford, Texas has had some helpful posts on their ESMS blog with information about the outbreak of EHV. Their hospital is in the epicenter of the cutting horse world. Dr. Fairfield Bain's blog posts are excellent. I was surprised to see them attributed to him personally, and impressed.

News from Utah: No cases reported to the public; "cases are being investigated"

  • On May 17, State Veterinarian Bruce King reported in a press release, "The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is investigating cases of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) within the state." He did not elaborate on the number of cases or whether definitive diagnoses had been received or whether the horses had been at the Ogden event.
  • Utah is certainly taking the situation seriously; they refer inquiries to their UtahEmergencyInfo.com web site, which looks like the place you'd go if a tornado hit.
  • Utah is where it all (allegedly) began, at a cutting horse event in Ogden. If you're wondering what went on at the show facility after the news hit, here's an excerpt from a press release from the Golden Spike Event Center:
  • "We are devastated by the news that the horses of some owners and trainers have been effected by the outbreak of EHV-1 brought into our facility in early May.? Please know that within 10 hours of learning about this, we promptly sterilized all stalls, alleyways, arenas, and common areas where horses might have been during the event.? We did this at the suggestion of Dr. Bruce King Bruce L. King, DVM, State Veterinarian, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food."
  • "Additionally, in an effort to be pro-active, that same evening we had the entire facility fogged with an anti-microbial virus neutralizer.? We have also destroyed all hoses and drained all water troughs just to be on the safe side."
  • "Because we are continuing to learn more about the virus and are awaiting the tertiary effect on other horses, we are not accepting any layovers and we are actively working with customers to postpone or cancel their shows within the next 28 days."

News from Washington: one case reported

  • A press release from the Washington State Department of Agriculture dated May 16 brings horse owners up to date with information from State Veterinarian Leonard Eldridge, including these quotes:
  • "A Washington horse that attended the National Cutting Horse Association event in Ogden, Utah from April 30 to May 8 has tested positive for a highly contagious animal disease, Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1)."
  • "While I have not yet placed any restrictions on the movement of animals, I strongly suggest that horse owners isolate animals that attended the Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah," said State Veterinarian Leonard Eldridge. "For the protection of other horses, these owners are advised to keep their animals home for a couple of weeks."
  • At Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the equine hospital almost accidentally hosted Washington's lone positive case, although the horse exhibited no symptoms. From the university press release:? "The Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital is entering a period of voluntary isolation for equine and camelid patients.? This is in response to a patient that was confirmed to be shedding Equine Herpes Virus type 1 (EHV-1). "
  • " In the past week there have been 2 confirmed cases of EHV-1 in Colorado in horses that competed at the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah.?? A horse admitted to the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for evaluation of unrelated problems was found to have competed at the show.? Subsequent diagnostic testing confirmed that the horse was positive for EHV-1."
  • "Due to the potential for spread of the virus, access to the VTH is currently restricted.? During this time, no new equine or camelid patients may be admitted to the hospital except for critical emergencies.? It is expected that the period of isolation will last at least 2 weeks.? ?There are currently no horses exhibiting signs of EHV-1 at WSU. "
  • Monitor more information about Washington State at http://www.agr.wa.gov

News from Wyoming: No information about cases was found

News from Alberta, Canada: One Case

  • As of? May 15, 2011, a single case of the disease had been confirmed and was quarantined. Moore Equine Veterinary Center in Calgary, Alberta is committed to helping the community deal with this ongoing situation. A letter to Alberta horse owners from Chief Provincial Veterinarian Gerald Hauer confirmed this.
  • It's interesting to note that Dr. Hauer refers to the disease as nEHV-1. The "n" designates the neuropathogenic or neurotropic form. This makes sense.
  • On May 17, seven veterinarians involved with various aspects of the EHV situation in Alberta met on a conference call. According to Moore Equine, "Two horses that were in contact (with the positive horse) have been tested and are confirmed negative as of today (May 17th, 2011), on both blood and nasal PCR testing."
  • In addition: "There are two other horses with mild temperature increases that are still being tested. There are NO deaths in Alberta as of May 17th,2011. The horse that tested positive is being treated well and is recovering from mild neurologic signs."
  • It was the consensus of the seven veterinarians on the conference call that non cutting or reining competitions are at a very low risk at this time.
  • I'd like to congratulate Dr Greg Andrews and probably other people at Moore Equine Veterinary Center for the work they have done to inform the public. They have posted information clearly on the front page of their web site but their Facebook page is one of the most active on the entire web on the subject of this EHV situation for the simple reason that they are answering people, and engaging in dialogue. They have posted the USDA brochure on EHM on Facebook, and they sound calm and compassionate and credible as they convey a great deal of information.

News from British Columbia, Canada

In a National Cutting Horse Association memo from Don Treadway, Jerry Black DVM is quoted: "According to Dr. Black, it is believed the index horse (the initial carrier) came from Western Canada."

The website of the Horse Council of British Columbia has one of the best banks of resource materials on EHV.
Paton Martin Veterinary Services in Aldergrove reported on their web site: "Despite rumors to the contrary, following conversations with veterinary colleagues in the Province, it appears that the affected horses have been identified and are confined and quarantined in a single private stable in the Okanagan Valley. TO OUR KNOWLEDGE THERE ARE NO CASES IDENTIFIED SO FAR (May 16, 2011) IN THE FRASER VALLEY. The only horse in the Fraser Valley that was at Ogden, Utah is 9 days post-exposure and is showing no clinical signs.

That is the news.

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