STATE NEWS: Equine Herpesvirus-1 Reported in Kentucky

January 28, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

Multiple cases of equine herpesvirus-1 have been confirmed in Kentucky this month.

In an update provided by the Kentucky State Veterinarian’s Office late Thursday, multiple cases of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) have been confirmed at Turfway Park in Florence and Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.

Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses. It can cause problems such as rhinopneumonitis, myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form of EHV-1), and abortion in broodmares.

E.S. “Rusty” Ford, equine programs manager for the State Veterinarian’s Office, stated that both quarantined barns remain secured with high-level biosecurity. “In addition to the affected barns, heightened biosecurity has been implemented in the entire barn area that includes directing and restricting entrance into each barn, as well as requiring disinfecting upon entry and exit of each barn,” he said.

The most common sign of EHV-1 in horses is fever, which can commonly go undetected by caretakers. Other signs in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and nasal discharge.

Abortion usually occurs late in gestation—around 8 months or so. It can occur anywhere from 2 weeks to many months following infection. There are typically no signs prior to abortion.

Myeloencephalopathy usually manifests first with fever and possibly signs of respiratory infection. A few days later, ataxia, weakness or paralysis of the forelimbs and hindlimbs, urine retention and dribbling, recumbency, and loss of tail tone develop.

“As in the past, Kentucky horsemen, tracks, and racing officials recognize and appreciate efforts made to control disease transmission and accept the short-term inconvenience and associated cost for the long-term benefit of racing in the Commonwealth,” said Ford.