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Virginia Point-to-Point Horse Confirmed EHM Victim

A horse that ran at the Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point Races on Saturday, March 22, 2014 was later confirmed positive for Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease of horses caused by Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). The affected horse, from Fauquier County in Northern Virginia, was euthanized. There have been no new cases reported as of this date (below), nor have there been any new cases on the affected farm, which is under quarantine.

VDACS contacted the owners of three other horses that were in the same race with the infected horse. The horse owners contacted to this point report healthy horses with no indications of disease. VDACS also contacted other owners of horses that may have had off-the-farm contact with the affected horse.

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What follows is information regarding EHM as released by the Virginia Horse Council:

The symptoms of EHM in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness and dribbling of urine. The disease is often fatal. The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to other horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated. EHV-1 poses no threat to human health.

VDACS recommends the following biosecurity measures for all horses that will come into contact with other horses at shows, trail rides, meets and other events:

Minimize direct contact between assembled horses whenever possible.
1.    Clean and disinfect equipment, feed, tack, stalls and other surfaces that are shared between horses.
2.    Isolate and closely monitor horses that are returning from a show, trail ride or competition for a minimum of 14 days.
3.    Clean and disinfect caretakers’ hands, clothing, shoes and vehicles that may be contaminated by other horses or equipment.
4.    Consult with your veterinarian about a vaccination schedule for diseases of concern such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Equine Rhinopneumonitis and rabies. Your equine veterinarian can also provide you with biosecurity recommendations that are specifically tailored to your horses and your facility.

Horse exhibitors and event goers can monitor their horses for early signs of infection by taking their temperature twice a day while at shows and reporting an elevated temperature to their veterinarian.

Posted April 15, 2014