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Attention Alberta Horse Owners: Neurotropic Equine Herpes Virus -1 (nEHV-1)

A case of nEHV-1 with neurological symptoms has been confirmed in a horse in Saskatchewan. Although other horses on the premises have tested negative and not moved since the original diagnosis. While this condition has not been detected within Rocky View County, the index horse had been present at a roping/rodeo event in Alberta just prior to diagnosis. The exact event is unknown but could possibly have been one of the following events: Wainwright Stampede, Guy Weadick Days (High River) or the Sundre Pro Rodeo.

Equine Herpes Virus -1 is a contagious disease of horses that has been around for a long time. The classical form of the disease causes respiratory disease, abortions in mares and rarely neurological (brain and spinal cord) disease. In the past few years a new strain of the virus has emerged in North America that causes more severe disease. It is called neuropathogenic or neurotropic EHV-1. This virus poses no human health risk.

nEHV -1 can be spread between horses through the nasal secretions of infected horses, as well as being transferred indirectly by people and equipment. The best practices to protect your horses from this and other infectious diseases are to:

  • Follow sound biosecurity practices that prevents infectious disease spread including:
    • Hand washing in between handling individual horses
    • Not sharing equipment  and feeding utensils between horses
    • Changing your clothes and footwear after handling sick equines
    • Disinfecting any environment and equipment exposed to sick equines (stalls, trailers, tack)
  • Monitor your horses closely for signs of infection (fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge, lethargy, etc.)
  • Call your veterinarian if your horse is not well to determine the cause of illness.
  • Prevent exposure of your horse to sick horses.
  • Vaccinate your horses against common infectious diseases. While vaccinations don't specifically protect horses against nEHV-1, they do prevent other diseases and make your horse more likely to remain healthy. Speak to your veterinarian about the vaccines you should use on your horses.

Additional information about preventing nEHV-1 in your horses can be found at the CFIA website. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Alberta’s Chief Provincial Veterinarian at 780-427-3448.

Posted in: Agriculture

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