VHC Response to EHV-1 Announcement

LEXINGTON, VA. On June 22, the State Veterinarian’s Office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) was informed two horses from the same barn tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the virus that causes Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy. The infected horses were stabled at the Virginia Horse Center during the Shenandoah Classic [Saddle Horse Show]. Both horses were immediately moved off the grounds when they first exhibited symptoms. One horse is receiving medical care and is stable. The other horse was subsequently euthanized. Approximately 80 exposed horses that were stabled in the same barn at the VHC have been placed under quarantine. All exposed horses are being monitored twice daily for fever (temperature over 101.50 F) and other clinical signs. No other horses at the horse show are considered exposed and the horse show will continue. However, the unexposed horses are having temperatures and clinical signs monitored out of an abundance of caution.

The Virginia Horse Center is following its biosecurity plan and will remain open for business. There is no cause for alarm concerning the general horse population in Virginia. EHV-1 is a virus that is present in the environment and found in most horses all over the world. Horses typically are exposed to the virus at a young age with no serious side effects. A large percentage of horses carry the virus with no clinical signs for the remainder of their lives. Rarely, exposed horses develop the neurologic form of the disease. Horse owners with concerns should contact their veterinarian.

The Equine Disease Communications Center Biosecurity web pages equinediseasecc.org/biosecurity have more information on best practices for disease prevention in horses and VDACS has more information on EHV-1 at vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-equine-herpes-virus.shtml. Horse owners also may contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.

CEO Glenn Petty commented, “Our thoughts go out to those connected with the affected horses. We are following the guidance of Virginia State Veterinarian Abby Sage and have been told by the Virginia Department of Agriculture that we have followed strict protocol and have the situation under control. As an added precaution, all horses on the grounds will have temperatures checked twice daily to monitor any future spread. All barns at the Virginia Horse Center will be completely cleaned and disinfected. We appreciate the support and guidance provided by the VA Department of Agriculture and our veterinarians. I’m happy to answer any questions. Please email me at gpetty@horsecenter.org.