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Horse with equine herpes symptoms euthanized

Two others at Bakersfield cutting confirmed positive; vets call for quarantine

Special to the Horsetrader - May 19th, 2011 - General News, Uncategorized

SACRAMENTO — Veterinarians are recommending a three- to four-week quarantine after one horse was euthanized and two other ill horses at a Bakersfield cutting event have tested positive with Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHV-1).

The University of California Davis reported at least two California confirmed cases of EHV-1 infection in horses that had recently competed at the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championship Show in Ogden, Utah, and then traveled to the Kern County Fairgrounds. One horse was transported from Bakersfield to the isolation facility at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Another horse that attended the Ogden show was also sent to UC Davis. Both of these horses have been confirmed as positive for EHV-1. In addition, at least four additional horses in various areas of Northern California have been confirmed as positive for EHV-1.

During the past week in Colorado, there have been at least two confirmed cases of equine herpes-1 infection in horses that competed at the NCHA show in Odgen.

The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) at UC Davis operates an isolation facility that was designed specifically to allow us to provide the best possible care to horses with infectious diseases such as EHV-1, while completely segregating them from other hospitalized horses and outpatients. The isolation facility is located a substantial distance from the main hospital, utilizes a dedicated group of staff and employs rigid infectious disease control and containment protocols that prevent other horses from becoming exposed. Currently, the two horses mentioned above are being treated under maximum isolation. These horses have no contact with other horses at the hospital. Because of the presence of EHV-1 in the community, the VMTH is taking every precaution to prevent EHV-1 entry into the general hospital. Every horse admitted to the hospital is being tested for EHV-1 and full biosecurity precautions are in force during the next few weeks as necessary.
Equine herpesvirus is a common virus of horses worldwide, and can cause respiratory disease, abortions, and less commonly neurologic signs as it has in these cases. It is transmitted by aerosol and close contact between horses, including fomites such as shared tack, equipment and by human hands. Though there are vaccines available for prevention of respiratory disease and abortions caused by equine herpesvirus, there are currently none that are labeled for prevention of the neurologic form of the disease.

Officials at the VMTH urge horse owners to contact their veterinarian if their horse may have been exposed to EHV-1 at one of these shows or through contact with a horse that has returned from one of these events. In general, exposed horses should be isolated and have their temperatures monitored twice daily. If an exposed horse develops a fever, diagnostic testing of nasal swabs and blood should be performed. Consideration should be given to vaccination of resident, non-exposed horses on premises where potentially exposed horses are returning to, as per the veterinarian’s guidelines.

For a comprehensive fact sheet on EHV-1, click here.

6 comments have been made on “Horse with equine herpes symptoms euthanized”

  1. Jessica Lynn Says:

    4 horses do not make an epidemic!

    More on EHV-1:

    Kimberly Henneman, DVM, FAAVA, Dip AAT, CVA, CVC
    Chinese Veterinary Herbalist (Cert IVAS)
    There has been another recent outbreak of the neurologic mutation of the common EHV-1 (equine herpes 1) virus. It is believed that the the virus exposure began at the Western National Championships (Nat’l Cutting Horse Assoc) held in Ogden, Ut (April 29-May 8). Word of sick horses being hospitalized in California, Nevada and Canada have been reported, but as of Monday, May 16, the only confirmed cases have been in Colorado.
    AND as of Monday evening, there are NO state borders closed….however, there are farms, counties and, even the veterinary school at Washington state, that are closed or quarantined. People need to STOP panicking and start thinking rationally to help prevent the spread of this disease. Be properly informed by direct information sources, rather then listening to rumor…especially if the people passing on the rumor themselves don’t understand illness, disease and medicine.
    There is a great deal of conflicting and outright incorrect information being circulated, so this note is to try and clarify information for horse owners. Additionally, recommendations made by the general veterinary community take on a pretty much a wait-and-see approach because there really isn’t much more that they can say. That leaves holes for non-medically trained individuals to step in and offer home remedies that may or may not be effective. This note is meant to educate horse owners from a professional, integrative medicine perspective so they can make appropriate choices for their animals depending on their situations, locales and the status of their animals.
    What is the neurologic herpes virus (EHV-1, rhino)?
    The neurologic variant was first identified in a serious outbreak at a college in Ohio in 2003. Since then there have been numerous outbreaks in farms and show grounds ranging from the East Coast (CT, VA, FL), mid-East states (KY, OH) and California.
    The majority of EHV infections in horses are EHV1 or 4. EHV1 is much more prevalent and more serious. There are three forms: respiratory, late term abortions in pregnant mares or, rarely, the neurological form. EHV4 only causes STRICTLY respiratory infections. The neurological form is the most serious and often progresses to recumbancy and death. Treatment is limited to supportive help and some direct anti-viral medication. Survivors may become chronic shedders of the virus.
    Initial symptoms may include vague symptoms such as: fever, lack of appetite, lethargy to rapid onset of neurologic symptoms such as incoordination, paralysis and eventually an inability to stand. The incubation period is approx 3-7 days. Direct horse-to-horse contact is the most common exposure with fomites (hands, brushes, blankets) being another method of transmission. The virus can survive in the environment for days to a couple of weeks depending on environmental conditions.
    Like any herpes virus, it can remain latent in the body until times of stress. The difference in perspective on addressing infectious disease between more conventional medical practitioners and more integrative ones is the emphasis in the body’s role in preventing disease. Conventional medicine often has to rely on either vaccinations to prevent, and if that isn’t an option, a more wait and see approach in order to have symptoms to treat. Integrative medicine has many nutritional, herbal and homeopathic options to help prevent and also to combine with standard treatments should symptoms appear.
    My horse is vaccinated…isn’t that enough? If not, should I vaccinate again?
    There is controversial evidence about vaccinating in the face of an outbreak. The standard EHV1 probably does NOT stimulate cross-protection, although the jury is still out regarding the vaccine Calvenza. The following excerpts were taken from a presentation given at the American Association of Equine Practitioners meeting in December of 2005. The author is Dr. Julie Wilson, board-certified internal medicine equine veterinarian from the University of Minnesota’s veterinary school. In addressing the question of vaccinating in the face of an outbreak, Dr. Wilson states,
    “Conventional IM (intramuscular) vaccines usually require at least 1 wk for measurable humoral (antibody) responses to a booster or a second dose and similar time period in naive animals. This time lag has discouraged the use of vaccines in exposed animals, yet vaccination has been successful in protecting adjacent groups not yet exposed.” (Wilson)
    Also from Dr. Wilson’s article,
    “In a California outbreak of neurologic EHV1 infection, horses vaccinated with either type of vaccine within the previous year were 9–14 times more likely to develop neurologic signs than non-vaccinated horses. Because the vasculitis associated with the neurologic form is immune-mediated, vaccination after exposure raises concerns of producing a more severe disease. Consequently, vaccination in the face of a confirmed outbreak of EHV1 neurologic disease has been controversial.”
    And, in the 2003 Finley University (Ohio) outbreak, Dr. Stephen Reed (top equine neurologist from Ohio State) discovered that animals heavily vaccinated against EHV1/4 had both a higher morbidity (attack rate) and mortality (death rate) as compared to the horses that had no vaccinations at all.
    What Can I Do to Protect My Horse?
    First and foremost, you should avoid exposing your horse to areas where transmission with multiple, transient horses can occur. Remember that the virus can survive in the environment for several days and can be passed by mechanical objects like bridles, halters, brushes and blankets.
    Second, remember that the animal’s own immune system is the best protection around. Sometimes, it just needs a little help, especially if it has been worked too hard by vaccinating too frequently, feeding overly-processed chemical and mold-contaminated feeds and dealing with too hard of a training and work schedule. There are two ways to support an animal’s immune system. You can diminish those things which can inhibit the immune system, such as stress and suppressing medications (steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, etc), and you can stimulate the immune system. It’s not an either/or…to maximize your horses health, you need to do both.
    MANAGING STRESS: There are many things to consider in managing your horse’s stress load. If your horse is overwhelmed by trailering, travel or leaving his/her herd, try to avoid too much if there has been a potential exposure. Be aware of your training schedule and be sympathetic to when your horse might need a break….even if you don’t (remember a baby horse less than 5 may be more susceptible to training stress than an older one). Also use caution in overusing Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (Bute, Banamine), as well as steroidal medications such as prednisone and dexamethasone, as these medications can inhibit the function of immune cells or cause additional inflammation and stress in the digestive system (location of 80% of the body’s immune cells). Did you know that when you have a joint injected with a steroid it has been shown that some of that steroid does go systemic which may suppress immunity in the face of an infection? Last but not least, vaccinations create a transient drop in immunity within 3-10 days after vaccination. The more viruses that are combined into one vaccine, the greater the transient drop. If you are unsure whether you can skip or postpone a vaccination, Cornell University’s diagnostic lab performs affordable and accurate vaccine antibody titers for West Nile, EEE and WEE which can allow you to determine whether your horse has adequate antibody levels to forego a vaccine, at least temporarily. As much as drug companies would have you (and your veterinarian) believe it, vaccine protocols should not be set in stone. Flexibility and common(?) sense are critical in the face of a potential crisis.
    STIMULATING IMMUNITY: There are many ways to stimulate the immune system. While there are products on the market that advertise that they boost the immune system, they are very general and crude ways of stimulating a system that is complex and specifically fine-tuned. In my experience of treating chronic immune deficiencies, these products can cause chronic health problems and immune sensitivities that can last long past the initial immune need. It is much like an usher getting a smoker to put out his cigarette by yelling “FIRE” in a theater. While the smoker has now put out the offending burning object, there are now people running around screaming and causing undirected havoc and unintended damage all around. The best way to boost the immune system is by doing it from the ground floor, through nutrition. Give the body the raw materials and it can best decide how to use them for its needs. After that, you can use immune-supportive herbs that show specific ability to supplement and aid what is naturally there.
    NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS (feeding with whole, clean, quality grains and foodstuffs is important – be cautious using overly processed feeds with ingredients made from by-products and damaged, rancid fats as these actually increase oxidative stress in the body):
    1. Vitamin C (Pure C): double the dose if there has been a recent, potential exposure. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant and may have other supportive effects not yet described.
    2. Vitamin E: give a minimum of 4000 IU/day. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant, has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory to nerve tissue. If a virus tends to attack fatty-covered nerve tissue, why not give it as much help as possible with this vitamin?
    3. Omega 3 fatty acids: flax seed (whole seeds, or Horse Tech Nutra Flax): O-3 fatty acids have proven ability to support and boost the immune system as well as serve as the foundation for the production of the anti-inflammatory chemicals of the body.
    4. Zinc: found in supportive levels in many hoof and skin supplements.
    5. Caretenoids are the precursors to Vit A, a vitamin which boosts the activity of virus-fighting killer-T cells. What better excuse to feed your horse lots of carrots?
    1. Ginseng (Korean/Panax or Siberian/Eleuthero): both of these types of ginseng are supportive to the adrenal glands (American Ginseng/Panax quinquefolius is weaker in regards to this function), which when stressed or exhausted, are unable to support the stress functions of the entire body. Excellent products which contain ginseng are APF or the now discontinued Ginzing by Equilite. Dr. Henneman bought all the remaining amounts of Ginzing from Equilite and we still have some left in the store. If you have a veterinarian practicing integrative medicine, especially if they have experience in Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are many herbal formulas containing ginseng (Panax or Eleuthro) that can be custom blended. Ginseng is expensive and is often replaced with Codonopsis..also known as ‘poor man’s ginseng’; it still boosts immunity but only at higher dosages.
    2. Echinacea: needs to be on-board at the time of exposure. Also, to be effective, it needs to be given at least 3 times a day. Human research has shown that Echinacea is more effective if given as a water extract (tea). Equinacea by Equilite is an excellent product.
    3. Goldenseal: has antiviral activity but can only be used for short-term – no longer than 10 days.
    4. Astragalus: this Chinese herb is extremely effective as an immune booster especially when it is combined with Ligustrum. Astragalus and Ligustrum formula has been used in Chinese Medicine for almost 1000 years. Today it has been shown to be very effective in treating HIV and Epstein-Barr virus and preventing secondary infections in people undergoing chemotherapy.
    5. Gan Mao Ling: a traditional Chinese formula shown to be effective in preventing or reducing the symptoms of the rhino virus in humans.
    6. Garlic: has been shown in several studies to increase the activity of virus-fighting lymphocytes. Since it is a ‘warm’ herb in the Chinese pharmacy, if you use garlic in your horse, make sure you combine it with other herbs that are a bit more cooling such as mint, elderberry or lemon balm. Equilite makes a great supplement called Garlic C which is balanced with other herbs to make it a neutral temperature formula.
    HOMEOPATHICS: these don’t work well as preventatives, but might be extremely effective in treatment of initial stages, especially combined with conventional supportive care. During the serious cholera epidemic of WWI, homeopathic hospitals in Philadelphia had a 16% mortality rate vs 60% for the general hospital population. OTC remedies can be purchased at Whole Foods, Good Earth. Jimbos, Sprouts, and Dave’s Health & Nutrition or online at Boiron and Hylands. Remedy potencies are 6C or 30C.
    1. Belladonna: the best remedy for sudden onset of high fevers with neurologic symptoms.
    2. Aconitum: sudden, vague fevers with lethargy
    3. Gelsemium: initial stages of viral infections with neurologic symptoms and fatigue. RESOURCES:
    1. Muller N: Essay on protecting your horse for EHV-1, Los Caballos Equine Practice (Galt, CA), ePub
    2. Henninger R: Data presented at equine herpesvirus-1 Havermeyer Workshop, Tuscany 2004
    3. Henninger R: Vet Immunol & Immunopathol 2006 May 15;111(1-2):3-13 Epub
    4. Lunn P, Morley P: EHV-1 Information, Colorado State University, Dept Clinical Sciences, 2011
    5. Wilson J: Vaccine Efficacy and Controversies, AAEP Annual Proceedings, 51: 409-420. 2005
    6. Reed S: Data on Finley EHV1 Outbreak, personal communication with Dr. Julie Wilson. 2004

  2. Cheryl Rhoden Says:

    Hi…forwarding this update from the Arabian Horse Association:

    –Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) Information–
    By now many of AHA’s membership is already aware of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak that resulted from the NCHA’s Western Nationals Cutting Championship in Ogden, Utah. Since the outbreak AHA has been attempting to acquire factual information on the outbreak. In the meantime much misinformation has circulated. What is now known is the following:
    •All 20 known reactors trace directly to the Ogden, Utah event
    •No Arabian horses are known to have been afflicted
    •This is not an epidemic
    The American Horse Council (AHC) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives advise that it is premature to cancel horse shows. In discussions with AHC and USDA it was expressed that the primary concern should be with horses that have had direct contact with horses that were at the Utah event. Therefore, unless show managers were expecting horses from the Utah event or horses that have been in direct contact with the horses that attended that event, there should be no worry.

    Tonight the AHA Board is having a conference call with the USDA’s veterinarian that is leading their work on this outbreak as well an AHC representative. In addition, the Board will be discussing how to handle qualifications for Regional Championships from shows that have been cancelled.

    Lance Walters, AHA President, following extensive communications with national leaders this week, stated the following, “Be vigilant against potential exposure to horses directly connected to the Ogden, Utah cutting, but in other instances follow normal everyday health practices for your horses. We are grateful no Arabians at this point have been affected. So unless there is a change, I recommend that our members continue with your show plans. Should any new developments occur that would change this recommendation, AHA will immediately issue a statement. ”

    For specific information or questions, please contact the AHA Competition Department at (303) 696-4500, #4 or consult your veterinarian, state veterinarian or the state veterinarian of your destination (see link to state vets above).

    Glenn T. Petty
    Executive Vice President
    Arabian Horse Association

  3. Amy N. Says:

    Should I be worried? I was just at the Kern County Fairgrounds riding in the Bakersfield Rodeo on Saturday, May 7th. Wonder if the cutting horses came in before or after me?

  4. Monica Whitmer Says:

    Epidemic? Maybe not – but a serious outbreak. And given that there were 400 horses at Ogden and 250 at the Bakersfield cutting, the likelihood is very high for an exponential spread of this highly contagious and frequently lethal virus.

    There is a simple solution. STAY HOME. If the show you were going to attend doesn’t have the courage to cancell – you can still STAY HOME. There is no blue ribbon, no silver belt buckle, no prize check that is worth risking your horse’s life. And at this point, we don’t know WHO has come into contact with this virus. We had a local horse show, turns out someone brought horses from a stable that houses horses that were present at the Bakersfield cutting. At that local show we had Arabs, Mules, English hunters, lead line schoolies and reiners. Only time will tell if there was exposure. The horses that left Bakersfield are currently showing symptoms. It will be 3 days before EHM is confirmed. Then the next question is, how good is that stables biosecurity. So, the best advice anyone can give right now is simply stay home. It costs nothing. It is the only sure fire way to keep your horses safe and to stop the infectious vectors from spreading further and further out.

    Is your horse’s life worth risking? Mine are too precious to me, and I know I could not afford to spend $1000 a day treating a neurologically challenged horse. So, I will not take the gamble. If everyone stays home, this will die down quickly and we can resume our show season. If everyone keeps downplaying the severity and the risk, then we will continue to see people who haul out and the infection will become pandemic.

    Doesn’t anyone recall the Hell the equine industry went through in Austrailia when they had an influenza outbreak? It killed Hundreds of horses and shut down the entire industry for months. We need to be smarter than that. Shut down now for a quick resolution. Everyone – Stay HOME!

  5. steve citron Says:

    I would like to thank all of the experts in Equine Veterinary Medicine for their comments and advice on this subject. Our horses have not been exposed as we know of, and are being monitored for any signs of distress. We also have decided to forgo a couple of gatherings of unknown horses at Trail Trials, and large trail rides for about a month, to see what pans out. We also are using a bleach solution to wipe down the hard surfaces of the trailer, the bits, (which we then wash in plain water), our hands after contact, and not touching other horses, no matter how cute the foal or nice the color. Lots of wipes of hands and even boots.

  6. Catherine Meyer Says:

    Way to go Monica Whitmer and all others who practice universal precautions! Stay home 4 weeks! Associations should cancel equine events for the protection and true well-being of all horses. Shame on horse owners if they subject their horses to exposure. With common sense and loyalty to our equines, this will not become an epidemic.

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