The Pueblo West View

Equine virus spreads, kills local horses

It’s a disease that kills.

Justas Bernal a Pueblo West Cyclone racing for the finish during the boys  4 x 800 meter relay at Dutch Clark last Thursday.
Justas Bernal a Pueblo West Cyclone racing for the finish during the boys 4 x 800 meter relay at Dutch Clark last Thursday.

It’s not a fear tactic.

And it’s back.

Equine infectious disease experts at Colorado State University discussed the dangers of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) and how to prevent potentially fatal infection among horses, especially those traveling to rodeos, clinics, horse shows and other events this spring and summer.

Many equestrian facilities, including the Wild West Stables in Pueblo West, has canceled events until news of the virus passes.

Last week, the Colorado Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian’s Office announced that a suspected case of equine herpes myeloencephalitis, caused by EHV-1, tested positive, as confirmed by the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories.

The horse was euthanized after developing severe neurological symptoms.

The horse recently had been at junior rodeo events in Henderson, Eagle and Rocky Ford, signaling the potential for infectious disease in other horses at these events.

A second horse from the same facility has developed a fever today and considered a suspect case but is not displaying any neurologic signs at this time.

This second horse attended some of the same events within the rodeo/barrel racing circuit as the original horse.

Because of these developments and the recent history of other EHV-1 cases in other states, the State Veterinarian’s Office in Colorado recommends that equine event organizers and horse owners competing in the rodeo/barrel racing circuit exercise extreme caution with regards to the planning and holding of equine events.

“Larimer County is the only county positive for EVH-1 currently and one horse that was euthanized,” said Dr. Tom Wendel, DMV and owner of Wendel Veterinary Services in Penrose.

“There are currently no travel restrictions within Colorado but if your horse is entering Colorado, you are required to get an entry permit from your vet.

“There is no cure or vaccine for EHV-1 but as horse owners, you shoould get the flu rhino/5-way in order to keep your horses immune system up and always ensure you do not share water, tack, bits and do not allow horse-to-horse contact that can be avoided. These are good travel practices, anyway.”

Owners should consider the risk for exposure to EHV-1 at upcoming events to be elevated and owners may want to consider keeping their horses at home to limit their individual risk.

As horses travel to summer equine events, it’s critical to understand the virus, how it spreads, signs of illness – and, most important, biosecurity steps to prevent this dangerous infectious disease.

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