Strangles, EHV-1 Reported In Ontario

Published: February 19, 2021 09:47 am EST

Trot Insider has learned that cases of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) and equine strangles have recently surfaced in Ontario.

Details on those cases are as follows.

Two cases of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) at facilities in the Regional Municipalities of Peel and Niagara

Two cases of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) at facilities in the Regional Municipalities of Peel and Niagara On February 16 and 17, 2021 the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) was notified of two confirmed cases of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) caused by equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) infection at equine facilities in the Regional Municipalities of Peel and Niagara.

In the Peel region, an 18-year-old gelding was euthanized at a referral equine hospital after showing incoordination in the hind end which progressed to him being down and unable to rise. In the Niagara region, a seven-year-old mare was first examined for difficulty urinating which then progressed to her being down and unable to rise. Both facilities are under veterinary supervision and the farm managers have implemented biosecurity procedures and movement restrictions.

There are now three equine facilities in the province with a confirmed EHV-1 infection causing neurologic disease.

EHV-1 does not pose a threat to public health or food safety. EHV-1 infection is immediately notifiable by laboratories to OMAFRA under the Animal Health Act.

Attending veterinarians concerned about potential cases of EHV-1 infection may contact an OMAFRA veterinarian through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Because a fever (greater than 101.5 °F or 38.6 °C) may be the first indication of infection, the temperature of potentially exposed animals should be monitored and recorded twice daily for 21 days and any abnormalities discussed with a veterinarian. Neurological signs, if they develop, may include loss of balance, hind-limb weakness, difficulty urinating, decreased tail tone, depression and being down and unable to rise. It is important that a veterinarian assess horses demonstrating neurological signs since it can be difficult to distinguish this from other serious diseases such as rabies.

EHV-1 infection is easily spread to other horses by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infected horse, by sharing contaminated equipment including bits, buckets and towels or by the clothing and hands of people who have recently had contact with an infected horse. It is important, therefore, to restrict movement for 21 days of both people and horses where EHV-1 has been diagnosed. Any person leaving a facility to care for or be in contact with horses elsewhere should change their clothes, shoes/boots and wash their hands before leaving the property. Facility owners should also inform all service providers that have attended the facility within the previous week, including, but not restricted to, veterinarians, farriers, feed suppliers and transporters, of the presence of the virus at the facility so they can take appropriate precautions.

Biosecurity is key to preventing spread of EHV-1. Implementing routine biosecurity measures is the best way to minimize viral spread and should be in place at all times to prevent a disease outbreak. Such measures include hand hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices. Horses that have been shipped long distances should be segregated for 14 days prior to entering the general population.

EHV-1 vaccines marketed for prevention of respiratory disease may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against developing the neurological form of the disease in the vaccinated animal.

For additional information:

► OMAFRA - Preventing Disease Spread - Personal Hygiene and Disinfectants around Horse Barns

► OMAFRA - Horses - Health Management and Biosecurity

► CFIA - National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector


Report of Strangles Case — Shamrock Training Centre

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) was informed a Standardbred race horse that had travelled from Red Shores Racetrack in PEI on Sunday February 14, 2021 with four other horses has tested positive for strangles. The race horse is in isolation at another property as of Tuesday February 16, 2021.

Four non-racing saddle horses were unloaded at private farms.

The AGCO has spoken to all trainers with horses in the affected barn at the Shamrock Training Centre. They are required to have their veterinarians create a testing plan and submit it to the AGCO before the horses will be allowed to train or entered to race.

Strangles is a highly contagious and serious infection of horses and other equines caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus equi.

It is a best practice to ensure that only healthy horses enter a racetrack paddock. It is advisable that all horses have normal temperatures prior to entering the paddock. This can be accomplished through simple but robust biosecurity practices by trainers and Associations.

Horsepeople are reminded to remain vigilant and institute appropriate biosecurity measures and should consult their veterinarians for advice.

The AGCO will monitor the situation and any further developments will be reported.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Pamela Chesterfield
Manager of Veterinary Services
(519) 551-1037

Dr. Adam Chambers
Senior Manager of Veterinary Services
(289) 237-3922

Additional Resources:

Rapport sur un cas de gourme — centre d’entraînement de Shamrock

La Commission des alcools et des jeux de l’Ontario (CAJO) a été informée qu’un cheval de course de race standardbred qui avait voyagé depuis l’hippodrome Red Shores à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard le dimanche 14 février, 2021 avec quatre autres chevaux avait été testé positif à la gourme. Le cheval de course est en isolement dans une autre propriété depuis mardi le 16 février, 2021.

Quatre cheveaux de selle non coureur ont été déchargés dans une ferme privée.

La CAJO a parlé à tous les entraîneurs ayant des chevaux dans l’écurie affectée du centre d’entraînement de Shamrock. Ils sont tenus de demander à leurs vétérinaires de créer un plan de test et de le soumettre à la CAJO avant que les chevaux ne soient autorisés à s’entraîner ou à participer à des courses.

La gourme est une infection très contagieuse et grave des chevaux et autres équidés, causée par la bactérie Streptococcus equi.

Il est recommandé de s'assurer que seuls les chevaux en bonne santé entrent dans les paddocks des hippodromes. Il est conseillé que tous les chevaux aient des températures normales avant d'entrer dans les paddocks. Cela peut être accompli grâce à des pratiques de biosécurité simples mais robustes par des entraîneurs et des associations.

Il est rappelé aux éleveurs de chevaux de rester vigilants et de mettre en place des mesures de biosécurité appropriées, et de consulter leurs vétérinaires pour obtenir des conseils.

La CAJO suivra la situation et tout nouveau développement sera signalé.

Pour plus d’informations:

Professionnels du cheval:
Dr. Pamela Chesterfield
Chef, services vétérinaires

Dr Adam Chambers
Chef principal, services vétérinaires