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In general the equestrian industry would concur with the term, ‘devastating’ when they hear the Equine Herpes virus outbreak. One may ask themselves, why? Equine keepers suffer hefty losses when such an outbreak occurs. Well, as we discuss this viral disease, become aware of precautionary measures to facilitate ease handling and rearing of equines.
What is Equine herpes virus?
A ubiquitous infection that affects horse populations around the world.
Characterized by several strains, however Equine herpes virus 1 and 4 have been reported to be predominant problematic strains.
Which are the symptoms to look out for?
Horses affected by equine herpesvirus show different clinical signs that depend on the strain of virus affecting the horse. Thus, horses may develop symptoms such as high fever, respiratory forms such as coughing and nasal discharge. Other horses may develop neurological damage that causes difficulty in coordination and inability to stand up. In the specific case of EHV-3 infections, they cause infections of the external genital region.
Impact of the EHV
In addition to the serious economic losses especially among horse breeders, some of the worst consequences we can certainly think of are: the heavy restrictions on the movement of horses throughout the country and abroad.
Moreover the equine herpesvirus can cause abortion in pregnant mares.
Last but not least, in case EHV infections cause equine myeloencephalopathy, a neurological disease, which may lead to deaths for the horses affected.
The management of this disease poses a challenge to the equine keepers and industry as a whole. How? This is so, because careful planning has to be carried in order to minimize the spread of the disease in a herd.
With the concurrent outbreaks in the United States of America, Equine herpes virus has become a cause of concern to most. The Netherlands, Poland, France, Germany and Italy recently cancelled horse race tournaments, as a result of the rampant spread of Equine herpes virus.
What can we do in case of equine herpesvirus infection?
- Immediately isolate any horse or horses if you suspect Equine herpes virus in your herd. By isolating, one minimizes the spread of the disease.
- Consult a veterinarian to help with diagnosis..
- As a horse keeper, it is recommended that sound management through record keeping and tracking of diseases is well noted.
- Vaccinations (which can help prevent both respiratory disease and abortion caused by EHV-1 and/or EHV-4) are part of an important tool to help prevent disease.
- It is important to always maintain the horses in good health and implement strict hygiene practices.
To sum it all up, horses are social animals and ought to be handled with uttermost care. However, in the case of Equine herpes virus outbreak it is cautioned that equine keepers report immediately to the veterinarians.