Equine Herpes Virus Outbreak – latest news

Following numerous phone calls into the office regarding the recent EHV (EHV-1) outbreak in Hampshire I wanted to give owners a little more information regarding EHV infection and prevention/control.

What we know

There has been an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus at Crofton Manor, near Stubbington in Hampshire. This was the neurological form of the disease and sadly has caused 4 fatalities so far. A number of other horses were tested and around 10 were confirmed to be positive. There was also a positive case at a local hospital where the horse was treated and recovered. There was a suspected case in Oxfordshire but this has come back negative for EHV.

How is it spread?

The disease is mainly spread by direct contact, either horse to horse or through the environment. There is thought to be some airborne transmission but not to the degree of the Equine Influenza virus.

What are the symptoms?

Lethargy

Inappetence

Coughing

High Temperature(over 38.5C)

Nasal Discharge

Limb swelling

Ataxia (weakness or wobbliness)

Vaccination

There is a vaccine commercially available for the management of Equine Herpes Virus. However, there is no evidence of effectiveness against the neurological part of the disease. The vaccine can take several weeks after the 2nd booster to provide any protection and so it would take a minimum of 6 weeks from today before it had any effect. The vaccine would then need to be given every 6 months. The problem with vaccination is that it affects testing for the disease as these horses would show as positive on any blood tests. In the event that a complete yard decided to vaccinate then theoretically it could reduce the duration of virus shedding. There are concerns that vaccinating horses under viral challenge could potentially worsen the clinical symptoms.

So on the basis of the above Sound Equine are not at present recommending blanket EHV vaccinations – but owners can decide on an individual basis whether they wish to start vaccination.

What can we do?

  1. Be vigilant

Monitoring for the above symptoms and contacting us if you are worried

Keep an eye on this Facebook page and the wider press

  1. Biosecurity

Reduce unnecessary movement of personnel onto and off yards.

Ensure that any vets, farriers or paraprofessionals (eg dental techs) are complying with basic biosecurity.

Reduce any direct contact between horses when outside the yard

Don’t travel to any of the affected areas

Competing/leaving the yard

This is a difficult one to answer as it is still early in the disease outbreak to know for sure and any advice is subject to change. Obviously with an infectious disease such as EHV the more cross contact between horses then the more risk there is to further outbreaks. However, the risks are low at present outside the affected area and owners can still move around at their own risk. Just be sensible, minimise the risks and monitor for further updates.

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