Equine Herpesvirus Confirmed in Oklahoma; Biosecurity Stressed For Horse Owners

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(public service announcement for horse owners)

Oklahoma City?State Veterinarian, Becky Brewer, confirmed today that a state horse has tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) and has been placed under quarantine. Further tests are being conducted to determine if this is a relatively new strain of virus.

"EHV is a very common equine virus and until recently was more easily controlled with biosecurity measures and a good vaccination program," Brewer said. "The virus has undergone a genetic mutation that can infect even vaccinated horses."

The new strain has a high mortality rate as opposed to the more common forms of EHV, she adds.

"We must stress that we don't yet know if this is in fact the new EHV-1 virus," Brewer said. "Samples have been sent to a laboratory in California for final confirmation and we will have the results some time next week."

EHV-1 is a respiratory disease and may be spread through the air, on tack, horse trailers and other forms of direct or indirect contact. Anyone contacting horses should change clothes, disinfect boots or shoes and wash their hands with soap and water before having contact with horses at another facility.

"Vaccination and biosecurity are our best methods of dealing with this disease and we are urging horse owners to take this issue seriously," Brewer said.

An EHV fact sheet is available on the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry website at http://www.oda.state.ok.us/ais.htm. Updates will also be posted on the agency's blog at www.agblog.ok.gov.

ODAFF policy prevents the location of quarantined animals or the identification of their owners to be released unless necessary to protect the public.