BURBANK — State officials last night confirmed that three additional horses in L.A. County have been confirmed positive for the non-neuropathogenic strain of Equine Herpesvirus-1, all of them boarded in the same barn at Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Two of yesterday’s three confirmed cases were at the same Oct. 27-29 horse show in Las Vegas that two previously confirmed horses had attended, according to reports from the California State Department of Food and Agriculture. One of those two previous cases, a 5-year-old Saddlebred, was euthanized Thursday.
All five horses resided in Barn A at the L.A. Equestrian Center, which acted quickly with biosecurity measures upon early cases to isolate any virus.
All three of yesterday’s confirmed cases are in isolation. Two of the three affected horses display neurologic signs, and the third horse has a fever.
Horses at the L.A. Equestrian Center who were at the October Las Vegas horse show have been tested, and the CDFA reports that at this time, no additional EHV-1 cases among them have been confirmed. The CDFA did not specify the horse show. The 72nd Annual California Saddle Horse Breeders’ Association Futurity Horse Show was held at South Point Hotel in Las Vegas on Oct. 27-29.
Exposed horses continue to have their temperatures monitored twice daily and enhanced biosecurity measures remain in place. CDFA Animal Health Branch veterinarians continue to monitor the quarantine and situation.
Late Friday, Dr. Katie Flynn, DVM of the CDFA thanked those affected in the quarantine area and applauded the work done to address the viral scare.
“Keep up the great job!,” said Dr. Flynn, who after a very busy Friday is expected to provide more details today. “I greatly appreciate your efforts in protecting the health of California’s equine population.”
Since Oct. 30, the day when horses returned from the Las Vegas show to the L.A. Equestrian Center, five horses have tested positive for EHV-1 in Barn A. The first two cases — both exhibited at the Las Vegas show — were announced Thursday by the CDFA, including the euthanized 5-year-old Saddlebred and a 10-year-old Saddlebred who was quarantined. The latest confirmed cases announced last night included two horses from Barn A who displayed neurologic signs and were put into isolation. A third horse from Barn A with a fever also was confirmed positive for EHV-1 and was moved to isolation.
Two other feverish horses, one from Barn A and another from Barn B, were tested and found negative for EHV-1, then placed in isolation.
The L.A. Equestrian Center reported that before Oct. 30, a horse in Barn C had been tested after dribbling urine. A nasal swap test was negative for EHV-1, and a blood test was a “weak positive.” This horse was tested Oct. 25, and both the nasal swab and blood results from those tests were negative for EHV-1.
“Based on the test results and the fact that this horse has a previous history of dribbling urine, it is likely that the weak positive in blood was an incidental finding,” said the L.A. Equestrian Center report. “Based on nasal swab, this horse poses minimal risk, as there is no viral shedding. Out of an abundance of caution, this horse will remain in isolation and be monitored.”
While the CDFA continues its investigation of the EHV-1 source and monitors the situation, officials and L.A. Equestrian Center staff encourage owners of horses exposed to the area to follow basic protocols in the days ahead:
* honor any quarantines or instructions from CDFA staff
* avoid direct horse-to-horse contact
* monitor your horse for clinical signs of disease and report a temperature over 102 degrees to a veterinarian
* avoid horse-to-human contact
* avoid sharing equipment, unless thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses
* avoid use of communal water sources
As a precaution, facility staff is cleaning any stall of a horse indicating a fever with a designated set of cleaning tools and by a designated attendant dressed appropriately in disposable overalls and booties. The equipment is sanitized with a bleach solution after each cleaning.
Horse owners are asked to report any fever of their horse to their veterinarian as well as the LAEC, identifying veterinarian, location, date and temperature.
In another precaution, management of the L.A. Season Finale Horse Show scheduled for Nov. 17-20 at the LAEC has moved its event to Hansen Dam Equestrian Center venue, said Marnye Langer, Managing Director of the Langer Equestrian Group.
“All of us at LEG are very concerned about the well being of the affected horses at LAEC and our thoughts go out to their owners,” said Langer, who has been working closely with LAEC and Dr. Flynn in assessing the situation.
“We want to keep horses safe while still holding a popular year-end show that features finals, championships, and other special classes,” said L.A. Season Finale Show Manager Charlotte Skinner-Robson
LEG is working closely with the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center to accommodate the event, although the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center management has placed a moratorium on any horses residing at LAEC from coming onto the HDEC facility.
“We want to keep the horse population safe and healthy,” said Sterling Champ of Hansen Dam Equestrian Center.
The USEF has granted approval for the show to move to Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in the interest of horse health and competitors.
Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form). In many horses, fever is the only sign of EHV-1 infection, which can go undetected.
In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months), but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.
Horses with the neurologic form usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.
The last incident of a fatal EHV-1 case in California was in Riverside County last February, when a 14-year-old polo mare displayed acute neurologic signs and was euthanized. Necropsy results confirmed the non-neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1. Seventy horses were exposed.
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