Click on text below to see the vid

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain
Like Other Countries Do

Friday, March 26, 2010

EHV-1 outbreak in NJ prompts state officials to quarantine barns

Last Thursday, New Jersey resident Corinne Dean had trailered a horse home that she had just purchased from local Camelot Auction. As the horse came off the trailer, she was panting and shaking. Within moments, the horse staggered and fell. A veterinarian was called who examined the horse. The mare showed signs of shock, and her membranes were black; the diagnosis was bastard strangles/pneumonia. The horse was euthanized; there was no necroposy done.

On March 23, New Jersey State officials arrived at the Monmouth County farm of Rachel Sherman and examined two horses believed to be EHV-1 positive. According to the e-mail posted by Nancy Halpern DVM, State Veterinarian," one horse tested presumptively positive and three horses have been euthanized with clinical signs consistent with the neurological form of the disease." Two farms are presently under quarantine for 21 days; each time a new case is confirmed the clock starts from the beginning again.

Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy is a neurological disease which damages the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord. There are five alpha herpesvirus that infect horses ( EHV-1,2,3,4,5), but EHV-1 and EHV-4 are the most serious health risks for horses.

Information on EHV-1

Any horse can be a latent life-long carrier and not show any signs of the disease, but it can be reactivated by stress, strenuous exercise or even long distance transport. The disease can be prevalent and move very quickly from horse to horse at race tracks, competitions, vet clinics, auctions and feedlots. Infection can occur through horse to horse contact, use of tack, grooming, feed and water buckets or by shoes and clothing of any person having had contact with an EHV horse.

The following are common signs of EHV:

Decreased coordination
Urine dribbling
Loss of tail tone
Hind limb weakness
Leaning for balance
Unable to rise
To diagnose the virus the most effective ways are nasal swabs, blood collection to detect the virus by PCR assay or virus isolation, ( collected 2 to 3 weeks apart) or through the necropsy of the dead horse.

Treatment can include supportive intravenous, anti-inflammatory drugs, and the use of antibiotics for the treatment of the secondary bacterial infection. Antibiotics have no effect on the equine herpesvirus itself.

The best way to prevent the disease is to keep away from any horse or barn that EHV has been diagnosed, isolate the sick horse, do not share equipment and always practice bio-security by washing hands before touching any horses.

Owners should always check with their veterinarians for protocol and advice about vaccinations or preferred treatments.

Wellington Outbreak

In December, 2006 a group of horses that arrived in Wellington from the import station in New York were stabled in Wellington for several days. The horses had been imported from Europe, and one horse shipped to California died and was confirmed as having had EHV-1. There were 6 reported fatalities, but the community dealt with it by voluntary quarantines and stop-movement orders. Veterinarians had vaccinated and boostered more than 4000 horses in a 48 hour period.


According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, EHV-1 and EHV-4 are ubiquitous in horse populations. There is no particular season, age or geographic areas more prevalent than others, but the denser the horse population, the more likely there will be the spread of the disease. According to Jennifer Swanson, co-founder of Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue in Loxahatchee, quarantine is just part of life.

" We used to bring in foals and horses and never knew the condition they were coming in, so we always practiced strict quarantine practices with us and our volunteers. We kept the sick completely isolated from any other horses, kept their buckets away and used more bleach than the local stores could supply. I've quarantined for skin infections, respiratory, strangles and other issues until safe release was confirmed by our vets," Swanson explained.

Last week Swanson rescued 3 Florida Thoroughbreds at risk from a farm in Maine known to ship horses directly to slaughter. Dedicated to saving Florida Thoroughbreds through their newest division of Pure Thoughts, the Florida Thoroughbred Rehabilitation and Placement expanded the open door policy for Thoroughbreds horses who have been retired from Florida race tracks. The three horses identified as Heaven's Host, IIithyia, and Derby Trafaire will be heading to Florida once quarantine is over.

"Heaven's Host tested positive for EHV-4 and IIithyia has Influenza A; Derby Trafaire's bloodwork came back as negative, but we have Heaven's Host and IIithyia in isolation and quarantine in New Hampshire now until they are retested by PCR assay to ensure their recovery. Even after they get down here when they are finished with quarantine, we'll quarantine them again. You can never be too careful," stated Swanson.

No comments: