State veterinarian officials have confirmed a case of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) this year. A Weber County horse tested positive last week and has been quarantined. Prior to diagnosis, other horses on the farm of origin were isolated from the affected horse and are being monitored for signs of illness, according to a statement from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
It is not known where this horse contracted the disease but it did compete at barrel racing events on Sept. 25, Oct. 2, and Oct. 5 at the Weber County Fairgrounds. Any horses attending these events are considered potentially exposed; close monitoring, including twice-daily temperature readings, is advised. Horses that develop a fever or show neurological signs should be isolated immediately, and owners should contact their veterinarian for advice and treatment options, according to spokesperson Doug Perry.
While there are multiple forms of disease caused by equine herpesvirus, neurologic EHV-1, also called equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), is the most concerning. Signs of EHM include fever, decreased coordination, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against objects to find balance, lethargy and inability to rise, said Perry.
There is no treatment for EHM, but supportive care may aid an affected horse’s recovery.