A horse recently euthanized at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center due to severe equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) had no known association with any international travel, transport or exhibition, according to information from the Equine Disease Communications Center (EDCC). The mare was admitted and diagnosed on March 3. No further details about the horse or the case were provided by the EDCC.
Veterinary officials in the United States are on high alert for outbreaks of EHM, the neurological form of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), as concerns grow that a very aggressive strain of the virus currently circulating in Europe may eventually make its way to the United States.
EHV-1 most often causes mild-to-moderate respiratory illness (rhinopneumonitis), but the infection occasionally leads to the life-threatening neurologic disease equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (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.
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