Securing against Equine Herpesvirus Myelencephalopathy (EHM)

According to a February 22 report from the University of Florida’s Veterinary Hospital, a horse tested positive for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) at the HITS Ocala show grounds. EHV-1 is a common strain of the equine herpes virus and most often causes respiratory disease, but it can also cause outbreaks of abortions, neonatal death, and neurologic disease. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

There are vaccines available to help reduce the risk for respiratory disease and abortion. There is no vaccine to protect against the neurologic form Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), but taking certain biosecurity measures can help prevent exposure to and spread of the disease.

The risk of exposure to EHV-1 increases if your keep your horse at a boarding barn where there are horses traveling to and from the property, or if you attend horse shows, rodeos, or other horse events. EHV-1 is a highly contagious infection and spreads via horse-to-horse contact, on clothing, contaminated feed or equipment, the hands of people, as well as being airborne.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends these precautionary steps to prevent the spread of EHV-1:

• Isolate the returning horse for 14-21 days.

• Take the horse’s temperature twice daily. Anything higher than 101.5 F is a potential sign of infection.

• Practice intensive hygiene for all horse equipment and handlers (disinfect equipment and wash hands).

If signs of infection are present, contact your veterinarian immediately. They can help determine if the horse is infected with EHV through testing.

To learn more about EHV-1 or EHM and the best practices to prevent infection, check out http://www.aaep.org/images/files/FAQforEquineHerpesvirusFeb2013.pdf, or you can contact me at Polk Equine.

CREDIT

column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY

BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an associate veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine. [/emember_protected]