EHV, Forewarned is Forearmed

We hear from our colleagues at WSU that a (single) horse has recently been diagnosed with the potentially deadly neurological form of EHV-1 (equine herpes virus). Also known as “rhino virus” this strain can cause a range of symptoms from relatively benign (flu like respiratory disease that may even go unnoticed) to devastating (abortion or severe neurologic disease). The good news is that, while vaccinated animals can still contract the virus, appropriate vaccination has proven to significantly reduce the severity of disease if the virus does breech an animal’s immune defenses. Because this virus is extremely contagious, it’s important to pay attention to the fact that there is even one currently active case in our region. You may remember the last EHV outbreak (several animals affected) in 2015 that affected the summer horse show season and spread through several stables. This incident is a classic example of why we are adding a wellness program to our list of services. Vaccination is a big part of a basic yearly wellness plan and we want to make it as easy as possible to implement healthy strategies for your animals so we’re currently refining a program to do that. If you already have yearly check up & vaccination protocols in place for your animals then they already have some protection from EHV. Protection against EHV is not a “one and done” proposition, timing is important and there is more than one vaccine product type to choose from. Now is a good time to review the vaccination history of your animals. Are they traveling or in a public stable (where horses come in and out), are they pregnant or do they have other stress factors to consider? Is there something you can do now to help keep your animal(s) free from disease? Contact us if you have questions, helping to keep your animals healthy is our number one priority! Okay, besides risk assessment & appropriate vaccination, what else can you do to minimize the chances of spreading disease? Here’s some ideas for travelers. Before putting your horse in a new stall take a minute to disinfect it. Lysol diluted in water is an excellent choice, it only takes 1/8th cup to 1 gallon of water to make a disinfecting spray. Don’t forget the buckets and other stall embellishments. This is one time that sharing is definitely not caring, a common water source is also a common source of contamination, get your water from the tap rather than via a shared hose. EHV is easily spread by aerosol and by fomites (shared contact sources like bits, buckets or your own hands) so use disinfectant wipes when working between horses. What if my horse is exposed? The incubation for equine herpes virus’ can be within a few days to a week depending on the strain. If your animal has been properly vaccinated and has a robust immune system he/she will likely not develop disease. However, there are other scenarios that might cause a range of symptoms from a transient fever spike to obvious ADR (ain’t doin’ right - off feed, depressed). In some cases you won’t even know your horse is infected if you aren’t monitoring his/her rectal temperature to catch the fever spike, so it’s smart to temp the travelers while away and for 5 days after they return home. The virus doesn’t shed (where it can infect other horses) until a fever develops, so use that thermometer from your RBE med kit! If your show horse spikes a fever, don’t delay, move it into quarantine and call your vet. Prevention is always best, but early recognition and treatment come a strong second! Tip; FB can go wild with less than accurate information, say no to the drama… fact check and only share from reputable sources! Here’s another good link for monitoring regional animal health issues. We also have more articles and links on our website; www.rockybayequine.com, check out our “resources” pages.


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