RICHMOND, Va. — On June 16, the State Veterinarian’s Office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) received a report from an equine veterinary clinic that they confirmed a horse in their clinic tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). EHV-1 is the virus that causes Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy.
The infected horse had been treated in isolation at the clinic for a few days before acutely showing neurologic signs. The horse was subsequently euthanized. The clinic practiced approved biosecurity protocol at all times during the horse’s stay. No other horses at the clinic were exposed and the clinic remains open to patients.
The horse originated from a private farm in Fauquier County. The farm and the neighboring farm, that shares a fence line, have both been placed under quarantine. All exposed horses on the farms are being monitored twice daily for fever (temperature over 101.5 0 F) and other clinical signs. None of the horses on either property are showing signs of illness. No trail riding is conducted through either property that could have exposed other horses. No additional Virginia horses have been exposed as none of the horses from either property had contact with other horses in the two weeks leading up to the illness in the index horse.
There is no cause for alarm concerning the general horse population in Virginia. EHV-1 is a virus that is present in the environment and found in most horses all over the world. Horses typically are exposed to the virus at a young age with no serious side effects. A large percent of horses carry the virus with no clinical signs for the remainder of their lives. Rarely, exposed horses develop the neurologic form of the disease. Horse owners with concerns should contact their veterinarian.
The Equine Disease Communications Center Biosecurity website, equinediseasecc.org/
—Michael Wallace, VDACS