No New EHV Cases Reported from Utah Competition Horses, 2nd Confirmed from California Event

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No new cases were reported from the outbreak of equine herpes virus among horses that participated in the National Cutting Horse Western Championships in Utah, but a second horse was reported Monday as a confirmed case from a cutting horse competition in California.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported 18 confirmed cases of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy that is caused by EHV-1. Two horses that competed only at a cutting horse event in Bakersfield, California, May 13 were confirmed in the latest tally. The other 16 cases were in horses that participated in the Cutting Horse Western Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier in the month.

No horses in other disciplines are reported to have been affected.

The National Cutting Horse Association announced Monday cancellation of all its shows through June 5 “in a nationwide show of precaution and solidarity to help stop the spread of the contagious and potentially deadly Equine Herpes Virus-1 among horses.”

As of Monday, the death toll from the outbreak across several states in the western U.S. and two provinces in Canada remained at eight, according to a check of state governments–Arizona (1), California (1), Colorado (2), Idaho (2), New Mexico (1) and Utah (1).

The latest updates from state government reports show that in addition to the deaths, cases of EHV-1 or EHM by state: California (18 confirmed), Colorado (9 confirmed, 22 suspected); Idaho (1 confirmed, 13 suspected), Montana (1 suspected), Nevada (3 suspected), New Mexico (2 confirmed, 4 suspected), Oklahoma (1 suspected), Oregon (2 confirmed), Texas (1 confirmed, 1 suspected), Utah (7 confirmed, 3 suspected), Washington (3 confirmed, 4 suspected) and Wyoming (1 suspected).

Equine Canada reported another four cases in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, all among horses that competed at the Utah championships.

The virus that is highly contagious but does not affect humans is spread by contact for up to 30 days.

Several horse shows–including dressage competitions–and clinics were cancelled or postponed throughout western states, including clinics for jumpers and reining in Colorado. Three Oregon Dressage Society events were postponed and a fourth was moved. U.S. Equestrian Federation sanctioned competitions Las Vegas Dressage Spring Fling III scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and a one-day competition in Kirkland, Washington, canceled because of the outbreak.

Colorado and Wyoming have imposed restrictions on horses entering the states, but other states with horses affected by EHV have not.

An outbreak of the equine herpes virus in South Florida in December, 2006, just weeks before the start of the winter dressage, hunter-jumper, polo and Thoroughbred racing circuits led to the deaths of six horses.

Biosecurity measures recommended for dealing with EHV include:

-Isolate exposed horse a minimum of 30 feet (10m) away from all other horses (round pen if necessary) for 21 days;
-Monitor temperature twice a day for 14 days;
-Immediately report temperatures over 102F (39C) to your private veterinarian;
-Use separate equipment, bucket, halters/leads for isolated horse;
-Wear protective clothing when handling isolated horse–coveralls, boot covers, gloves. Do not use same clothing with other horses;
– Ideally, use separate personnel for isolated horses, and
-Restrict movement.

Key to limiting the disease from spreading is Isolation of sick horses. Sick horses are shedding virus and should be removed from exposing additional horses.

Symptoms can include fever, sneezing, slobbering and other mild symptoms. Serious cases of the disease are rare, but can include staggering, hind-end paralysis and even death of the horse.

The virus can usually survive for about a week on surfaces, though under the optimum conditions could last as long as 30 days.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners said:

• There is no specific treatment for EHV-1, although antiviral drugs (i.e. valacyclovire) may have some value before neurological signs occur.

• Non-specific treatment may include intravenous fluids, and other appropriate supportive therapy.

• The use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is strongly recommended.