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An outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) has been confirmed in eight western states and Canada. Most of the confirmed positive horses recently attended the national cutting horse championships in Ogden, Utah. Health officials have concluded that the EHV-1 outbreak started there. Owners of horses that attended that event have been urged to notify their veterinarians and isolate and monitor their horses. Seven of the infected horses have died or have been euthanized.

Cases have been confirmed across California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Canada. California has the most confirmed cases with thirteen.

The outbreak should not be a cause for alarm, but should be taken seriously, experts say.

“The first thing to remember,” says Equus Medical Editor Joe Bertone, DMV, “is that these outbreaks have happened for years and years, but didn’t get the press they are getting nowadays. People need to remain calm and follow good hygiene and management practices. The vast majority of horses will not have any issue with this disease.”

EHV-1 is highly contagious and is transmitted mainly through nose-to-nose contact between horses. It can also be transmitted by tack, clothing, or through the air for limited distances. Although the disease is not transmitted to people, it is a serious threat to horses and may cause respiratory, neurologic disease, and death.

For more details, see Keith Coffman's article in Reuters.

Posted May 20, 2011

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