Two Washington State farms quarantined due to equine influenza virus

The highly contagious viral disease is spread via airborne droplets exhaled by infected horses or contact with contaminated surfaces.

Two farms in Washington State are under voluntary quarantine after resident horses tested positive for equine influenza, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center. The first farm, in Snohmish County, had one horse test positive. The second farm, in Thurston County, had three horses test positive.

Equine influenza is caused by a virus. Clinical signs include fever, lethargy, muscle pain and weakness, nasal discharge and dry cough that can persist as long as six weeks after all other clinical signs have abated. Treatment is primarily supportive care, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to control fever and muscle pain. Antibiotics are indicated only to treat secondary complications, such as pneumonia.

Equine influenza is highly contagious. The virus easily spreads from contact with contaminated surfaces and via airborne droplets exhaled by an infected horse. With an incubation of only a day or two, an entire herd of horses can be feverish and coughing before the initial case is even diagnosed. Diagnoses is made by isolating the virus from nasal swabs.

The equine influenza vaccine is classified as a risk-based vaccine by the American Association of Equine Pracitioners. It is recommended for horses who travel frequently or live with those who travel frequently. Vaccination can also help to boost immunity in individual horses in the face of an outbreak if the outbreak is detected early enough. 

Click here to read more about how to protect your horse from equine influenza.

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