Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1) Case in Colorado

 A Larimer County, Colo., horse has tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), according to a statement from the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA).

The state veterinarian’s office received notice of the confirmed case on March 26, and CDA is investigating the positive case and has placed the facility where the horse is stabled under quarantine. The horse is undergoing treatment and others it might have come into contact with are being monitored but are not showing clinical signs of the disease at this point. At this time the affected horse is the only horse showing any clinical signs of disease and is recovering.

“The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact but it can also spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands; this certainly highlights the importance of practicing basic biosecurity practices,” said state veterinarian Keith Roehr, DVM. “Equine event organizers should continue to practice routine biosecurity practices that are effective in prevention of EHV and other horse diseases as well. There was very limited movement from the affected facility so the risk to other horse owners or event organizers is very low, essentially the same as before this index case.”

Clinical Signs of EHV-1 in horse 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, clinical signs of the disease are sometimes treatable. EHV-1 is not transmissible to people; it can be a serious disease of horses that can cause respiratory, neurologic disease, and death.

Basic biosecurity practices can reduce the risk of exposure to diseases. Key points of a biosecurity plan include isolating new animals and those returning to the home premises, supplying clean feed and water, implementing infection-control practices for visitors and personnel, and avoiding movement from various locations if possible. Especially important is the isolation of any sick horses. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarian if sickness appears in their herd.

“Effective biosecurity practices lead to fewer health problems for animals and contribute to a longer and better-quality life for the horse,” said Roehr. “When you’re traveling with horses, something as simple as a clean water bucket that you don’t share with other people’s horses can greatly affect disease movement.”

For more information, visit the link, A Guide To Understanding the Neurologic Form of EHV Infection or visit and click on “Animal Health.”


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