Equine Herpesvirus (also known as EHV) is a highly contagious disease among horses, causing a range of ailments from respiratory diseases to abortion in broodmares and neurologic issues. A recent incident in Monroe County, Wisconsin, has brought this equine health issue to the forefront once again.

Recent EHV Cases Highlight the Need for Awareness

In a private facility in Monroe County, three cases of neurologic EHV were identified in March 2024. A 5-year-old Belgian mare confirmed positive after developing clinical signs like hind-limb ataxia, general weakness, and dribbling urine. Two other horses, suspected of having EHV, were euthanized, while ten other horses were exposed to this contagious disease. Stringent quarantine measures were warranted considering the highly contagious nature of the virus.

Understanding EHV

EHV is a disease that can easily spread from horse-to-horse or can be transmitted by sharing contaminated equipment, or even through humans who have recently had contact with an infected horse. To keep the situation under control, it is important to ensure hygiene and follow a set of cleaning and disinfection practices.

Ideal EHV Prevention Strategies

Although there are EHV-1 vaccines available, these are known to reduce viral shedding but do not protect against the neurologic form of the disease. Routine biosecurity measures serve as the best ways to curb the spread of EHV. While these control methods play a crucial role, the best way to arrest the disease is by preventing its occurrence in the first place.

Key Signs of EHV Infection

Many horses exhibit fever as the initial or only sign of EHV-1 infection which, more often than not, goes unrecognized. However, in addition to fever, other common symptoms in young horses can include coughing, decreased appetite, depression, and nasal discharge. Though broodmares typically show no signs of infection, the disease leads to abortion, usually late in the gestation period.

EHV: A Word of Caution

EHV is a significant concern for all involved in the horse industry - from owners, trainers, to veterinarians. Even professionals who travel from barn to barn are at risk of being unintentional carriers of the virus. Being aware and knowledgeable about EHV, its symptoms, and prevention strategies is a key step in ensuring the health, welfare, and safety of our horses.

As confirmed by this Wisconsin case, EHV continues to be an area needing considerable attention. Let's strive for a safer equestine environment by ensuring we are all informed and prepared. Remember, a little precaution goes a long way.

Resources: EHV article on Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC)