Equine Herpes Virus
Equine Herpes Virus – Howyou can protect your horse
We’ve allheard about equine influenza and strangles, but are you aware of anotherdisease that is equally as contagious, and can lead to abortion? Equine herpesvirus (EHV) is a condition not to be overlooked – takeaction now to understand more about EHV and take the necessary precautions tocontrol it.
What is EHV?
Don’tunderestimate EHV. Although not so well known as some of the other contagiousequine diseases, this virus can become a serious problem if not contained andcontrolled. Be aware of the symptoms – fever,coughing, depression, going off feed, and nasal discharge; if you suspect ahorse is infected, act quickly, particularly if you have pregnant mares on theyard, as it is a common cause of abortion. It can also lead to neurologicalissues, as well as respiratory problems.
How its spread
Equine herpes virus (EHV) is spread through touch (eitherdirectly or indirectly), via the air or by bodily fluids. All of this makes ita highly contagious disease, so the need to prevent the onset in the firstplace is crucial. However, if there is an outbreak in your areas, limiting thespread of the condition is vital to prevent a pandemic.
To prevent an outbreak, all new horses arriving at anyestablishment should be isolated for 3-4 weeks. The incubation period fromfirst exposure to showing symptoms can be anything from 2-10 days. Respiratorysymptoms last anything from 1-7 days, and pregnant mares may abort 2-12 weeksafter infection. If after 3-4 weeks there are no signs, the horse can then beintroduced to other horses.
Two types of vaccines exist for EHV, but they are notconsidered to be wholly effective. A vaccinated horse can still catch the disease,although the symptoms will be much less severe. If there is a known outbreak inyour area, vaccinating may be a consideration to help lessen the effects of thedisease. Speak to your vet about the options available, and how appropriatevaccination is for your horse.
However, it is alsoimperative that barrier nursing and good management practices are put intoplace, particularly in the case of an outbreak. The stages to follow are:
opreferably only one person should deal with thehorse
oWash hands thoroughly before and after handlingthe horse, as well as using hand sanitiser
oDip footwear in a footbath of disinfectant
oChange clothes before working with other horses
oDo not share stable equipment and make sureeverything is disinfected
Disinfectthe whole stable, including walls and ceilings, doors, pathways and any othersurface the horse may have come into contact with – this is crucial, as the virus can live in theenvironment for several weeks. However, it is killed by a good disinfectant