The Utah State Veterinarian has confirmed nine cases of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in the state. Four of the infected horses were euthanized.
State officials are restricting the movement of the remaining animals, which are in Cache County, as a precaution to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Cache County Fairgrounds Horse Arena closed its riding arena until further notice because all of the affected horses were at the facility recently. Officials say horse owners who had their animals at the arena in the past 30 days should monitor their horses closely.
The state does not have any travel or event restrictions in place due to the outbreak of EHV-1 cases.
“As a precaution to Utah horse owners, I advise they take extra biosecurity steps to safeguard the health of their animals, said State Veterinarian, Dr. Bruce King.
Equine Herpes Virus symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.
If your horse’s temperature is above the normal 99 to 101.5 degrees, the AAEP recommends you contact your veterinarian, who will do a physical examination and, if indicated, will take both a nasal swab and a blood sample.
According to the AAEP, most horses have been exposed to and infected by EHV-1 by the time they are 2-year-olds (typically as they are foals in contact with their dams). Often the virus becomes inactive once the horse is infected, but the animal will remain a life-long carrier of the virus. These carriers may show no outward signs of infection with EHV-1, though the virus can be re-activated should the horse become stressed, such as during transport, weaning or intense exercise. Once activated, the virus can spread via the aerosol route (even from a seemingly “healthy” horse.)