Virus affecting horses found at N.C. stable

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 6, 2012

RALEIGH – The neurologic form of equine herpesvirus, EHV-1, has been confirmed in a North Carolina horse. The horse, from a Rockingham County stable, was taken to the College of Veterinary Medicine at N.C. State University upon becoming ill, and directly quarantined to the equine isolation unit of the hospital.

“We have been fortunate that we’ve not seen this particular form of this common virus in North Carolina to date, even though it has been increasing in frequency throughout the country for almost a decade now,” said State Veterinarian David Marshall. “We are working with the College of Veterinary Medicine and with the stable to implement biosecurity measures and minimize the risk of further spread.”

EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses, but poses no threat to humans. It most often causes respiratory infections in young horses, but different strains can also pose neurologic problems, which the affected N.C. horse exhibited. The virus also can cause abortion in pregnant horses or neonatal death. Vaccines are available that protect horses from most forms of EHV-1, but not from the strains that cause neurologic problems.

Biosecurity measures to protect horses include quarantining facilities that are suspected to house EHV-1-exposed horses. Water and feed buckets should be disinfected and not shared. Stalls and trailers should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of disease. New additions or those returning from shows and exhibitions should be isolated for 3 weeks prior to comingling with other horses upon returning home. Horse owners should also talk with their veterinarian to determine a vaccine schedule.

More information about EPV-1 and how to prevent the virus can be found at Alerts.htm. Questions regarding College of Veterinary Medicine protocols may be referred to David Green at 919-513-6662.

There are no horse events scheduled this weekend at facilities owned by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Raleigh, Williamston and Fletcher.