EHV Cases in Western USA Still Increasing, 12th Death Reported

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The number of horses that have died or been euthanized in the equine herpes virus outbreak in the western United States has risen to 12 and confirmed cases climbed to at least 80, though not all nine states hard hit by the disease were reporting over the Memorial Day weekend holiday.

The latest death was reported in New Mexico, the second to die in that state following the outbreak of EHV-1 and its associated mutated version EHM among horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Western Championships in Ogden, Utah early in May and a second event in Bakersfield, California.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported the 19th confirmed case of EHV/EHM, in which a horse in Colusa County that did not attend either of the two competitions was apparently infected by stablemates that did so. A similar new case was reported in Idaho.

Washington also upped the number of positive cases to seven

Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Wyoming have imposed tougher measures on horses transported from other states, while some other states have urged limiting movement of horses in an effort to contain the outbreak.

The latest reports from the outbreak came after the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Friday listed 11 deaths and 75 confirmed cases, up from seven deaths and 34 confirmed cases a week earlier.

The outbreak in the western states surpassed one of the previous worst outbreaks among show horses, in South Florida in December, 2006, resulting in six deaths and threatening Florida’s winter circuit, the world’s largest horse show. It was contained by the imposition of stringent quarantine measures.

The western outbreak has led to the cancellation of dozens of horse shows, including several dressage competitions over the three-day weekend. Some competitions enforced biosecurity procedures that included backup quarantine stabling and round-the-clock veterinary care. However, widespread withdrawals were reported as competitors heeded recommendations to contain the outbreak and stayed home.

In Colorado where two deaths and nine confirmed cases have been reported, Dressage in the Plains I and II in Peyton scheduled for Friday through Sunday and the Whispering Winds schooling show in Monument were canceled. High Prairie Dressage in the Denver suburb of Parker that was scheduled for June 2-5 was also canceled.

The Oregon Dressage Society advised that the Fort Vancouver Dressage Show and the Twin Rivers Summer Sizzler Practice Show scheduled for the Memorial Day weekend would not be held because of concerns over the EHV-1 outbreak and that many barns were voluntarily imposing a quarantine on their facilities.

Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Wyoming have imposed regulations on horses transported from other states.