A recent outbreak of a strain of equine herpevirus (EHV-1) in Western states serves as a reminder to horse owners to take precautions during the upcoming competition and show season.
Concerns about the virus, which can lead to abortion in mares, and respiratory and neurological problems as well as death, recently arose after several horses were diagnosed following a Utah event that potentially exposed hundreds of animals.
While no link to Ohio was identified, Leah Dorman, DVM and OFBF director of food programs, said horse owners should approach the issue with an attitude of caution.
“There’s no need to be afraid, but people need to understand how the virus is spread,” she said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. However, it can also be spread indirectly through objects contaminated with the virus such as tack, grooming equipment, feed and water buckets or people’s hands or clothing.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the USDA recommends stopping horse movement if you suspect animals may have the virus, isolating sick horses in a separate building or paddock and not sharing equipment among horses on the facility. Other measures can be taken to prevent people from spreading the virus from horse to horse such as by washing their hands and changing clothing and footwear after handling a sick horse.