Health scare: Equine herpesvirus outbreak

Last week the equine herpesvirus arrived in Finland from Estonia, and so now everyone is closing their gates, canceling shows/competitions and trying to prevent further spreading of the disease. Let's just hope that this passes quickly and that we can prevent further infections and deaths from occurring. 

What to be on the look out for?

Clinical signs:

  • coughing 
  • fever (38.9℃- 41.7℃)
  • nasal discharge
  • general discomfort
  • incoordination of the hind
  • urine retention
  • bladder weakness
Also keep an eye on your horse's eating - loss of appetite can also be a symptom!

Transmission routes?
  • aerosol transmission → inhalation of droplets from coughing and snorting (NOTE: EHV virus is not as easily spread this way than the equine influenza) 
  • indirect transmission → virus can be carried on people's clothing and skin so disinfectant and clean clothes are important!
Incubation period is 2-10 days after infection by any route, but can be as short as 24 hours!

How to try to avoid/prevent infection?

  • practise proper bio-security measures to prevent people spreading → promptly disinfecting hands after handling different horses, changing clothing and footwear and wearing gloves can all help
  • do not share equipment with other horses →  virus can be spread through contaminated objects such as water/feed buckets, tack and equipment
  • direct horse to horse contact should be avoided → if at a show or competition, try not to let your horse touch/smell other horses
Don't panic (unlike myself, I've already had several panic attacks!), most horses recover from this in one to three weeks. There are several vaccinations available, just ask your vet!

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