Rare horse virus affecting animals in central NC
Posted January 1, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Some area horse farms have decided to close to the public for the next two weeks following the euthanization of four Raleigh horses with a rare virus.
The horses, which were at the same north Raleigh boarding facility, were diagnosed with Equine Herpesvirus-1. The contagious disease comes in two forms: one that can cause abortion in mares and another that causes respiratory infection and neurological problems.
The euthanized horses were found to have have the neurological type of EHV-1, according to test results received Friday from the National Veterinary Services Lab.
EHV-1 is often fatal because it cannot be treated, veterinarian Dr. Chelsey Miller said. "It's a virus and we don't have any anti-virals that are effective or cost-effective right now for this disease," she said.
The farm will remain under quarantine for 28 days after the last fever is recorded, because it can take some time before horses show symptoms of the illness.
Officials believe the virus is an isolated incident with "low-risk to other horses," but are encouraging horse owners to practice good biosecurity measures, such as separating horses that might have been exposed and monitoring their animals for signs of the disease. Symptoms include fever and neurological issues, such as lack of coordination and loss of balance.
The illness can spread through riding equipment, common water bowls and food buckets. Humans can transmit it through their shoes or clothing.
"The most safety precaution you can have would be to not transport your horses anywhere off your property. That would be the safest way to keep from having direct contact horse-to-horse," veterinarian Dr. John Parks said Wednesday.
That's what owner Susan Poulton plans to do with her 13-year-old horse, Moose.
The last known strain of this virus in North Carolina was two years ago. The illness only affects horses and not other animals.