Three farms in Ontario quarantined due to neurologic equine herpesvirus

With no vaccine available to protect against this form of EHV, quarantine and biosecurity measures are key components of disease control.
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Three facilities in the Canadian province of Ontario are now under quarantine due to the neurologic form of equine herpesvirus, type 1 (EHV-1). 

In early February, health authorities were alerted to an outbreak of EHV-1 on farm in the Municipality of Halton. According to the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC), two horses were affected in that private facility. Both were euthanatized  following the sudden onset of severe incoordination and an inability to stand. 

Microscopic image of EHV virus

Most cases of equine herpesvirus-1 infection cause only mild to moderate respiratory illness but occasionally some lead to life-threatening neurologic disease.

Last week, the EDCC reported two more farms went under quarantine. On one property, in the Regional Municipality of Peel, an 18-year-old gelding was euthanatized after he developed neurologic signs including severe hind-limb incoordination and an inability to stand. The other property, in the Municipality of Niagara, is home to a 7-year-old mare who is having difficulty urinating and is currently being treated. 

EHV-1 most often causes mild-to-moderate respiratory illness (rhinopneumonitis), but the infection occasionally leads to the life-threatening neurologic disease EHM. The mechanisms through which EHV-1 produces neurologic disease are not yet understood. There is no vaccine that specifically protects against EHM, so biosecurity is a crucial part of prevention. EHV-1 spreads from horse to horse through nasal discharge or aerosol droplets. Humans can spread the virus via contaminated hands, clothing and equipment.

To learn more about EHM and how you can protect your horse, click here.

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