A confirmed case of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) type 1was diagnosed during the first week of February. This horse was subsequently humanely euthanized due to advanced neurologic signs. Three more horses also developed clinical neurologic signs and were hospitalized (and isolated) at Animal Medical Center. All tested positive for EHV1, and a second one was subsequently euthanized due to advanced neurologic signs.
All four horses (and hundreds of others) utilized the facilities at CAM-PLEX over the past two weeks. None of these horses were stabled at CAM-PLEX. EHV1 is an elusive disease, sporadically appearing at seemingly random places every year throughout the United States. Some facts that these two cases highlight and that our horse clients need to be aware of;
1) Determining the origin of either one of these cases is unrewarding, so sympathize with our fellow horse owners who have affected horses.
2) CAM-PLEX may or may not have been the source of infection. There is a high probability that a horse present at the barrel racing jackpot on January 27 or 28 was shedding the virus. This disease is known to have ‘asymptomatic shedders’. Asymptomatic shedders are individuals that are shedding the virus, but not sick themselves. CAM-PLEX took measures to disinfect their facility, but the reality is that any facility that has heavy horse traffic in and out, is at risk for all infectious diseases. CAM-PLEX is no worse than any other equestrian facility, and after this disinfecting protocol should be better.
3) Vaccination for this disease has shown only limited benefit at best. HOWEVER, this highlights the importance of vaccinating for all those other diseases in which vaccination is protective. As we are approaching High School Rodeo and College Rodeo seasons, vaccinate your horses!
4) Biosecurity is extremely important! Enjoy your events while keeping your horse as safe as possible!
If your horse is just not doing well, is showing signs of wobbliness, or has a fever, please call. It’s extremely important to be open about this disease as we are all in it together.
A fifth horse from Sheridan County also came down with neurologic signs and tested positive for EHV1 on March 11th. This barrel horse most likely contracted the disease at the LCCC College Rodeo the previous weekend. The horse was competing at a barrel jackpot on March 11th at CAM-PLEX when it started showing clinical signs. Fortunately, the horse is slowly recovering.
What this highlights is that the risk of contracting this disease or any infectious, contagious equine disease originates from the population of horses your horse competes with. The facility is simply the PLACE where all these horses come together. Most certainly, in Eastern Wyoming, in this population of barrel racing horses, during late winter of 2018, the risk of contracting EHV 1 is higher than normal.
Finally, as you enter and compete at events from Billings, MT to Greeley, CO, be aware of this slightly higher than normal risk. Practice biosecurity. Keep your horses tied to your trailer, warm up outside, enter the arena only to compete, and then exit. Don’t share hoses, water buckets, or tack.
And if your horse gets sick, REPORT IT!