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WSU veterinarians confirm equine herpes case

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed a single horse with a rare neurologic form of equine herpes virus (EHV-1).

Confirmation came late Friday and the horse has been in isolation in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, Wash., since its arrival Thursday. The horse was to be humanely euthanized Friday and its stall and surroundings will undergo terminal cleaning.

The horse in question is an 18-year-old quarterhorse mare from Newport, Wash., that had been competing in rodeo events in the inland Pacific Northwest until it developed symptoms.

As required by law, WSU veterinarians have contacted the Washington Assistant State Veterinarian, Scott Haskell. His office and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will respond to the situation statewide.

The EHV-1 type was confirmed based upon clinical neurologic signs shown by the horse as well as testing by the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) in Pullman.

The virus is highly contagious and is spread via aerosolized secretions from infected coughing horses, by direct and indirect (fomite) contact with nasal secretions, and, in the case of EHV-1, contact with aborted fetuses, fetal fluids, and placentae associated with abortions.  Disease can range from subclinical to the severe neurologic symptoms seen in the horse at WSU.

Horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarian to discuss vaccination and means for preventing EHV infections.  The last outbreak affecting Washington horses came in May of 2011.

At this time and since the horse has been in constant isolation since arrival, the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital remains open to receiving equine patients as needed.  Owners may want to call ahead to ensure the hospital is still open as this situation develops.  The number is 509-335-0711.

WSDA and WSU will issue any additional status reports as information becomes available.


Charlie Powell, 509-335-7073 (all hours),

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