Trot Insider has learned that an equine facility in Ontario has reported a confirmed EHV-1 infection causing neurologic disease.
OMAFRA was notified on September 23, 2021 regarding a positive test result for EHV-1 from a mare that was euthanized on September 20 due to acute neurologic disease. The mare was located at a boarding facility in the Ottawa region. The facility owner voluntarily implemented movement restrictions on September 17, 2021 after a different mare was referred to a veterinary facility in another province for assessment and treatment of ataxia. The boarding facility is under veterinary supervision. At this time, no other horses have shown clinical signs related to EHV-1 infection.
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 - Horses - Health Management and Biosecurity
(with files from OMAFRA)