Equine Herpes Virus Update
The State of Oklahoma is home to countless horse owners and many large equine events. Due to the potentially serious consequences, news of an Equine Herpes Virus incident has caused questions and concerns throughout the horse industry.
Horse owners, event managers, and veterinarians should be aware of a recent outbreak of neurologic Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) at a racetrack in New Mexico.
“A quarantine remains at Sunland Park Racetrack in New Mexico and Frontera, a local horse-training center,” said Dr. Rod Hall, state Veterinarian of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. (ODAFF)
Sunland has been under quarantine and racing has been suspended. Hopefully, we have seen the worst of this particular incident. There are no related cases of EHV-1 in Oklahoma.
“However, with Remington Park preparing to open for their 2016 American Quarter Horse and Mixed Breed Season, some of the New Mexico horses will be coming to Remington Park and we want to encourage horse owners to make sure their horses are vaccinated against the Equine Herpes Virus,” Dr. Hall said. “The Herpes Virus vaccine does not elicit a good long-lasting immunity, so it’s important to vaccinate every 60 days horses that travel and are co-mingled with other horses.”
Symptoms of neurologic EHV-1 infection are fever, nasal discharge, incoordination, hind limb weakness, urine dribbling, and a flaccid tail.
Dr. Hall said this is a good time to remind all horse owners and those of other livestock of the importance of proper care and vaccination of all their animals. This is the time of year when animals such as skunks are beginning to be more active, so vaccinations against rabies are important, according to Hall.
“It’s always a good idea for people to vaccinate any of their livestock that they are going to be around a lot like horses and show cattle and sheep and goats that are show animals,” Hall said. “We’re getting into the time of the year where mosquitos will be coming out which spread West Nile Virus, so that’s another thing that horse owners can vaccinate their horses against.”
ODAFF recommends horse owners and event managers remain at a heightened level of awareness, implement biosecurity practices to minimize potential exposure, consult with a veterinarian on an appropriate vaccination schedule, and report any suspicious illness or neurologic disease.
There have been no changes in import regulations and no recommended event cancelations issued by ODAFF.
“We want to make people aware of some of the dangers,” Dr. Hall said. “I think it’s important to do that every year, but especially anyone associated with racehorses, needs to be aware of this. If someone does see something that causes concern, they should call their veterinarian.”
The Oklahoma Racetracks have implemented heightened requirements in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading at Oklahoma racetracks. The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission along with Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association and Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma worked with the racetracks by offering input on the Policy for the racetracks. The Oklahoma Racetracks implemented the policy as private property owners.
The Oklahoma Racetrack Policy Regarding EHV-1 Equine Herpesvirus can be viewed at http://www.ohrc.org/ehv1.pdf ;http://www.remingtonpark.com/Horsemen/Horsemens_Information/ ; http://www.cherokeecasino.com/media/212535/OKLAHOMA-RACETRACK-POLICY-REGARDING-EQUINE-HERPESVIRUS.pdf ; http://www.oqhra.com/32-popular/82-ehv-1-policy-oklahoma and http://www.traoracing.com/ .
From The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry: For more information, contact Dr. Rod Hall, (405) 522-0270