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Equine herpes virus

A show horse sticks his head out of the window of his stall in August at the Twin Falls County Fair in Filer.

TWIN FALLS — Three horse facilities in Idaho are under quarantine after equine herpes was found in Idaho.

Equinevirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is a neuropathogenic strain of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) and results in neurological symptoms, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

The ISDA has confirmed EHM in horses in Gooding, Jerome and Bannock counties. The three infested facilities are privately owned. No connection between the operations has been established, the statement said.

The ISDA urges horse owners to avoid transporting horses unless absolutely necessary. No equine vaccine has been licensed to protect against EHM, the statement said.

EHV-1 is present in the environment and found in most horse populations around the world. It’s not known why some horses with EHV-1 can develop EHM. The virus poses no health risk to people.

Symptoms of EHM infection in horses include fever, hindquarter weakness, lethargy and incontinence. Horses can catch the disease during horse-to-horse contact and contact with nasal secretions on tack, feed and other surfaces. People can spread the virus to horses through contaminated hands, clothing, shoes and vehicles.

Horses that may have been exposed to EHV often take several days to show signs of the disease and run the risk of spreading the virus undetected. Exposed horses that travel to shows or exhibitions could expose other horses.

“We encourage owners to contact their veterinarian immediately if they observe any symptoms of illness in their horses,” Dr. Bill Barton, state veterinarian, said in the statement. Anyone suspecting or confirming a case of EHM/EHV should call 208-332-8560 to report cases.

To minimize a horse’s risk of contracting the virus:

  • Disinfect stalls before use
  • Never share water or feed buckets and tack or grooming equipment
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with other horses
  • People working at multiple equine facilities should wash their hands and change footwear and clothing before entering each facility

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