Health
5:00 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Raleigh Horses Treated For Rare Virus

Two horses at play.
EHV-1 can be spread through horseplay.
Credit goingslo via Flickr Creatibe Commons

State veterinarians are investigating signs of a rare virus in four horses at a north Raleigh farm.  The disease, Equine Herpesvirus-1 -- or EHV-1, is only contracted by horses and cannot affect people.

Tom Ray is director of livestock health programs at the state Department of Agriculture.   He says there are several ways the virus can be spread among horses.

"The highest risk of transmission is nose-to-nose contact," Ray says.  "The virus is shed in nasal secretions so horses that have nose-to-nose contact would be highest risk.  Very close second would be sharing food buckets and water buckets.  Third would be sharing tack or grooming utensils."

Ray says they've shut the affected farm down so they can tend to the animals.  He says while there is no cure, treatment in horses is similar to how a flu virus can be treated in people.

"What we do is run through at least two full incubation periods of the virus," Ray said  "An incubation period is up to 10 to 14 days so we'll run a quarantine for 28 days after the last fever..clinical signs we've seen in any horses.  We don't have any clinical signs..fevers.  We haven't for a week now."

The virus can prompt abortions in mares and also lead to brain and respiratory issues.  EHV-1 at its worst could require a horse to be euthanized to stop the spread.