Facts on the Equine Herpes VirusEHV-1, a highly contagious strain of equine herpes virus, causes abortions, respiratory disease and, in some cases, neurological problems. It is not transmissible to humans.
The most common symptoms are fever, coughing, nasal discharge and loss of appetite. Horses with the neurological form of the disease show a lack of coordination in the hind limbs and, in severe cases, an inability to stand.
It usually occurs by inhaling infected droplets or ingesting material contaminated by nasal discharges. Indirect transmission can occur when the virus contaminates hands, feed and water buckets.
· Booster vaccinations of healthy horses have some value. The vaccine has little to no effectiveness in preventing the neurological form of the disease.
· Infected or exposed animals should be put in quarantine. Feed buckets, waterers and grooming equipment should not be shared between horses.
· Ideally, an infected horse should be treated by one person who does not have contact with other horses. If this is not possible, the infected horse should be attended to after all the others, and the person's clothing should then be laundered. Hands should be washed between contact with each horse.
· Stalls, barn aisles or any place where someone who has contacted an infected horse has walked, should be cleaned with a commercial disinfectant such as Vircon. Disinfection should occur only after thorough cleaning and removal of visible dirt and organic matter.