Equine herpes outbreak hits the United States

11:32 PM 19 May 2011 NZST
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On the afternoon of Wednesday May 18, there was reportedly one horse in the Weatherford, Texas area that had tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). The horse had been at the NCHA (National Cutting horse Association) Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah.

The horse reportedly has been quarantined since its arrival in Weatherford, and was thought to be at a very low risk of shedding the virus prior to the horse's isolation from all other horses.

The NCHA is not aware of any additional horses in Texas that have been reported with cases of the virus as of the afternoon of May 18. The Texas Animal Health Commission has been contacted, and the facility where the horse that had tested positive for the EHV-1 virus is located has reportedly been quarantined

In related news, the NCHA has cancelled the 2011 Breeder's Invitational.

Here is the press release from the NCHA:

In a unanimous decision, the Breeder's Invitational (BI) Board of Directors permanently cancelled its 2011 event in the wake of the outbreak of EHV1. Earlier in the week, the show was postponed after confirmed cases of EHV1 were reported in horses that had attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western Nationals in Ogden, Utah.

BI Officials were concerned the congregation of the large number of entries expected at the 2011 Breeder's Invitational event had the potential of further spreading this dangerous virus."We did not feel comfortable with the potential of exposing horses arriving in Tulsa to EHV," said BI Board Chairman, Jeffrey Matthews.

"An outbreak at an event of this size could be devastating. The Board of Directors decided to take a conservative approach to the situation in the interest of protecting the health of the horses."

Today, the decision was made by the Board of Directors to permanently cancel this year's event, instead of rescheduling it to a later date this calendar year.

"There is no date available in 2011 at the Expo Square that we could made work," reported Bob O'Bannon, BI Executive Director. "And the Board was in complete agreement that they did not want to hold the event anywhere else."Matthews elaborated on the decision:

"We have a contract with the City of Tulsa and we value that contract and our relationship with Tulsa. In the very near future, we intend to announce our plans with regard to the refund of 2011 entry fees and the reallocation of this year's purse money, which will go toward making next year's event even stronger."

State by state update:

Colorado:

Six confirmed cases of horses with EVH-1

Five of the confirmed EHV-1 positive horses had recently attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah.

One of the horses diagnosed with EHV-1 received the infection through contact with horses that attended the Utah event.

One horse, which tested positive for EHV-1, was euthanized after showing severe neurological signs associated with the disease. A second horse was euthanized with similar symptoms but test results have not been confirmed at this point. The others are currently under treatment by veterinarians and in biosecure locations.

14 suspect cases. Suspect cases are those horses that are believed to have been exposed to EHV-1 but confirmatory tests are still pending.

9 quarantine and hold orders have been issued in 4 counties (Boulder, Larimer, Mesa, & Weld)

Oklahoma:

We are getting reports that one horse in Love County in southern Oklahoma has EVI-1. NOTE: The state of Oklahoma has not officially confirmed this case.

California:

In a release issued on May 17, 2011, by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), it was reported that Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), has been confirmed in 10 horses in California.

Affected counties are Kern, Placer, Stanislaus, Amador and Napa. One horse in Kern County was euthanized after showing severe neurologic signs often associated with the disease. All of the infected horses recently attended the NCHA Western Nationals in Odgen, Utah, held April 30-May 8, 2011, where they were most likely exposed to the virus.

All California horses that have been in contact with an infected horse and show signs of disease or test positive for EHM will be placed under a CDFA quarantine in order to limit spread.This disease outbreak is evolving and CDFA will continue to investigate cases and provide updated information.

The CDFA has contacted all 54 exhibitors from California who participated in the Odgen event and asked them to isolate and monitor their horses for clinical signs of EHV-1.A rectal temperature in excess of 102F commonly precedes other clinical signs. Therefore, horse owners with potentially exposed horses are urged to take temperatures on each individual horse twice a day.If a temperature above 102F is detected, the horse's private veterinarian should be contacted immediately for evaluation and laboratory testing.

While the true extent of this disease outbreak is uncertain, there is clearly a very significant elevated risk of EHM cases at this time. At this time control of the outbreak is critically dependent on biosecurity.

Arizona

While no horses at the South Buckeye Equestrian & Events Center in Buckeye, Arizona had shown clinicalsigns of theEHV-1 as of May 17, facility managers issued this statement yesterday, "We feel it's absolutely necessary and our responsibility to the equestrian community to be proactive in our effort to contain this highly contagious disease. Therefore, NO horses will be accepted onto our facility beginning today May 17 until further notified."

Texas:

See above and. . .

While no horses at the South Buckeye Equestrian & Events Center in Buckeye, Arizona had shown clinicalsigns of theEHV-1 as of May 17, facility managers issued this statement yesterday, "We feel it's absolutely necessary and our responsibility to the equestrian community to be proactive in our effort to contain this highly contagious disease. Therefore, NO horses will be accepted onto our facility beginning today May 17 until further notified."

News releases May 18, 2011:

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