What is EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus)?
EHV-1 is a highly contagious herpes virus that can cause several types of diseases in horses. Though the majority of cases affect the respiratory system (rhinopneumonitis), EHV-1 can also progress to a more serious neurological disease called myeloencephalopathy (EHM).
EHV-1 is an airborne virus and can be spread through contact with infected horses, contaminated water buckets, feeding bins, grooming tools and even human hands. Horses most at-risk for this virus are young, weak, old or immune challenged.
In rare cases, the virus can progress to a neurological disease known as EHM (usually after 8-12 days), causing a horse to experience acute paralytic syndrome, loss of coordination, urine dribbling, and inability to stand. EHV-1 is a potentially deadly disease and can cause abortion in pregnant mares.
What are the symptoms of EHV-1?
After an incubation period of 1-2 days, an infected horse may exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, fever, weakness, clear nasal discharge and loss of appetite.
It is possible for horses to be latently infected with EHV-1 for most of their lives and, when under stress of training or competition, shed the virus without exhibiting clinical symptoms. This makes containing the virus extremely difficult.
What to do if your horse contracts EHV-1?
First and foremost it‚Äôs important to isolate the infected horse and follow strict bio-security measures to prevent spreading the virus. Secondly, contact your veterinarian immediately. EHV-1 is highly contagious and the neurological strain (EHM) is a potentially deadly disease. A quick and accurate diagnosis is essentials to proper treatment.
There are currently no known vaccines on the market that successfully prevent or cure the neurological form of EHV-1 (EHM). However, it is important to have your horse vaccinated against rhinopneumonitis, which can help prevent future outbreaks of more common strands of EHV-1.
If your horse is exhibiting symptoms of the Equine Herpes Virus contact your veterinarian immediately. Mid-Rivers Equine Centre is available 24/7 for emergency care (636)332-5373.