The vast majority of horse owners in Oregon and in the Pacific Northwest should feel free to participate in horse shows, rodeos and other equine events as a recent outbreak of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus appears to be well contained, officials said June 6.
State Veterinarian Don Hansen of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says sufficient time has passed for most horses that may have been exposed to the virus traced to a horse show in Utah last month. The few horses that have shown symptoms of the disease will remain quarantined in their barns or stalls and monitored closely until it is clear the virus is no longer present.
Horses that participated in the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championship in Ogden, Utah, from April 30 through May 8 may have been exposed to the virus. In total, 20 horses from Oregon attended the show, five tested positive for the virus, and one died. The virus also affected horses in other states including Washington, Idaho, and California.
"Any horse that hasn't tested positive, shown any symptoms, or not exposed to a confirmed positive horse should be okay for travel and participation in equine events," said Hansen. "We've been in close contact with owners of the affected horses and their stable mates. Those animals have been kept isolated and under close watch for the past few weeks. If these horses have gone 28 days without any signs of illness, including fever, they are most likely no longer contagious and can be considered for quarantine release."
Hansen continues to emphasize the need for horse owners to practice good biosecurity and hygiene at all times.
"While we appear to be out of the current episode, herpes viruses in general are common in horse populations as they are in human populations," said Hansen. "It's always a good idea to take steps that minimize the threat of disease. That was the case before the recent outbreak and will continue to be the case in the future."
Tips to help prevent the spread of Equine Herpes Virus include:
* Don't share equipment among horses on the facility. The virus can be spread from horse to horse via contaminated objects such as water and feed buckets or bridles.
* Prevent spreading the virus from horse to horse via hands and clothing. People should wash hands after handling one horse and before handling another.
"There is no reason at this time to avoid shows, exhibitions, competitions, and other equine activities," said Hansen.