RICHMOND, Va. — On November 29, the State Veterinarian’s Office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) received results that a horse tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the virus that causes Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy. Two horses at a small boarding stable in Powhatan County showed neurologic signs and were euthanized due to a poor prognosis. One of these horses was tested and received a positive result. A third horse currently has a fever and test results are pending. The boarding stable has been placed under quarantine. All exposed horses on the farm are being monitored twice daily for fever, a temperature over 101.50 F, and other clinical signs. No horses have been off the farm in the past ten days. All owners with potentially exposed horses have been contacted. No additional Virginia horses were exposed.
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 percentage of horses carry the virus with no clinical signs for the remainder of their lives. Rarely do exposed horses develop the neurologic form of the disease. Horse owners with concerns should contact their veterinarian. EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans.
Please visit the Equine Disease Communications Center Biosecurity website at equinediseasecc.org/biosecurity for more information on best practices for disease prevention in horses. VDACS has more information on EHV-1 at vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-equine-herpes-virus.shtml. Horse owners may also contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS