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Oregon horse dies of equine herpes virus

Horse owners are warned to watch for signs equine herpes virus after a Lane County horse dies.

By Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

Published on March 11, 2014 9:52AM

A horse in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has died from equine herpes virus and four others in the same Lane County stable have tested positive and are being treated, the Oregon Department of Agriculture reported.

All horses on the property have been quarantined, department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said in a news release. There’s no indication the virus has spread beyond the 10 horses at the stable, he said.

The horse that died was purchased in neighboring Benton County. The previous owner was notified and reported no signs of illness in other horses.

The virus, known as EHV-1, cannot be transmitted to people but is hard on horses. It can cause miscarriages, respiratory disease, neurologic disorders or death. The virus is most commonly spread by horse-to-horse contact, but also through contaminated equipment, clothing or hand contact.

Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise, according to the ag department news release.

Horse owners should contact a veterinarian if they have concerns about their animals, and should develop a prevention plan that includes vaccinations. Veterinarians are asked to report cases to the state veterinarian, Dr. Brad LeaMaster, at 503-986-4680.

A 2011 outbreak of EHV-1 was traced to a cutting horse competition in Utah at which about 400 horses were in attendance, and resulted in at least 37 sick horses throughout the west. Several died or had to be euthanized.


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