EHV – Basic Factsheet

Not Own Photo, Source Unknown.

There has recently been a case of EHV in the area, which unsurprisingly, has put the local equine area into a state of panic. I think this is largely due to the fact that people do not totally understand what it is or how it is spread. Because of this I thought I would put together a bit of information about EHV for the average horse owner.

What is EHV?
EHV is Equine Herpes Virus. There are 5 strands of EHV, with EHV-1 and EHV-4 being the most common. Although EHV-3 is also herpes virus, it is often called ECE. (Equine Coital Exanthema)

How is it spread?
– Respiratory route (coughing/snorting)
– Airborne (poor ventilated stables, American barns)
– From infected equipment or waste

Symptoms (for non breeding animals).
Symptoms often show themselves as either a respiratory or a paralytic problem. However, horses can display both, with respiratory usually coming first.
– Respiratory disease
– fever
– coughing
– nasal discharge
– Paralytic disease
– poor coordination in hind limbs, sometimes forelimbs
– not urinating or defecating
– unable to stand

Treatment
There is currently no specific treatment for EHV. However, there are treatments for symptoms displayed by the horse.
Prevention is better!

Prevention
Although there is a vaccination available, it is not widely used in the industry. This is largely due to the fact that the risk of EHV is too low to justify the cost of the vaccination.
Therefore, here are steps to help prevent your horse contracting EHV (and other diseases):
– isolate any new horses on the yard if possible (minimum of 10 days)
– keep your horse away from any unknown horses (especially at shows!)
– don’t share equipment for different horses or different yards
– clean buckets and troughs regularly
– clean stable before keeping another horse in there
– keep stables/trailers/horse boxes well ventilated as they create good conditions for airborne transmission
– be aware of any outbreaks and avoid these areas.

I understand that many of these things are not possible for everyone and really, very few non breeding/racing yards follow these procedures. However, if you are aware of any disease break out in the area, I would suggest following as many of these as possible.

For more information I would suggest reading the HBLB Codes of Practice or contacting your vets.

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