NRCHA Veterinarian Dr. Joe Carter address EHV-1 concerns for upcoming NRCHA Stallion Stakes

In recent weeks, one positive case of Equine Herpes Virus type-1 (EHV-1) has been diagnosed in the state of Nevada. EHV-1 is a contagious virus which can cause respiratory disease in young horses, abortion in pregnant mares and occasional neurological disease in older horses.
With the upcoming National Reined Cow Horse Association Stallion Stakes, the South Point Equestrian Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, has gone above and beyond their already-strict biosecurity protocol to help ensure our horse’s safety.
NRCHA Veterinarian and Animal Welfare Committee Chairman Dr. Joe Carter says, “The South Point Equestrian Center has the best biosecurity procedures in the country. The barn manager, Kyle, and his staff do an incredible job of making sure all areas of the facility are cleaned and sanitized.”
In addition to disinfecting the stalls, aisleways, wash racks and other common areas where horses congregate, an upcoming event, held March 22 – 24 at the South Point, has been cancelled. The cancellation of this event not only allows the facility to be more prepared, but it will also allow a longer quarantine time. The average incubation period for EHV-1 is four to seven days, but some may take up to 14 days. The event that the confirmed EHV-1 case attended was held February 22 – 24.
“With horses arriving on grounds starting Thursday, March 28, we are well outside of the incubation period. Also, the chances of cross contamination are very low given these are two different genres of horses,” stated Dr. Carter. With more than 30 years in veterinary practice, Dr. Carter noted that EHV-1 is nothing new. Although social media has called greater attention to it in recent years, common sense and simple preventions are the best weapons against this disease.
“Anything that we consider standard biosecurity measures helps to control EHV-1. All the major horse show facilities disinfect, but it doesn’t hurt to do more. There are other diseases we’re trying to prevent, like flu and strangles. Bringing your own clean feed and water tubs; making sure your horse has booster shots; disinfecting bits and other shared equipment between horses are all basic practices that can go a long way towards prevention. Whether it’s Clorox, Pine-sol or some other disinfectant you buy from your feed store or vet, it is always worth the extra steps,” Dr. Carter said.
The staff at the South Point Equestrian Center, Dr. Joe Carter and the NRCHA staff are taking every preventive measure to ensure a successful and healthy NRCHA Stallion Stakes.
As a reminder, the South Point Equestrian Center requires a negative Coggins (Equine Infectious Anemia) dated within 6 months. Another step the privately-owned facility takes towards top-notch biosecurity, since the state of Nevada requires a 12 month negative Coggins. In addition to a negative Coggins dated within 6 months, exhibitors will also be required to present a 30 day health certificate upon arrival.
FAQ: Equine Herpes Virus type-1
From the American Association of Equine Practitioners –
What is equine herpes virus?
EHV are viruses that are found in most horses all over the world. Almost all horses have been infected with the virus and have no serious side effects. It is unknown what causes some horses to develop the serious neurological forms that may be fatal. To date, nine EHVs have been identified worldwide. Three of these, EHV-1, EHV-3 and EHV-4, pose the most serious health risks for domesticated horses. Equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is another name for the neurologic disease associated with equine herpesvirus (EHV) infections.
How does EHV-1 spread?
EHV-1 is contagious and spread by direct horse-to-horse contact via the respiratory tract through nasal secretions. This disease can also be spread indirectly through contact with physical objects contaminated with the virus, such as water buckets, tack, trailers, etc. The virus can be airborne, although it is difficult to establish how far it can spread in this manner. It is estimated to be viable for up to seven days in the environment under normal circumstances, but may remain alive for a maximum of one month under perfect environmental conditions.
What are some of the signs of EHV?
After infection, incubation period may be as short as 24 hours. Incubation is typically 4-6 days, but can be longer. EHV-1 typically causes a biphasic (two-phase) fever, peaking on day one or two, and again on day six or seven. With respiratory infections there is often nasal discharge, but not much coughing. With the neurologic form there are typically minimal respiratory signs, with fever (rectal temperature greater than 102 degrees F) being the only warning sign. Neurologic disease appears suddenly and is usually rapidly progressing, reaching its peak intensity within 24 to 48 hours from onset of neurologic signs. Clinical signs of the neurologic disease may include nasal discharge, incoordination, hind limb weakness, loss of tail tone, lethargy, urine dribbling, head tilt, difficulty balancing and inability to rise.