As you may be aware there is a small and contained outbreak of a neurological disease causing strain of Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV 1) in Hampshire. The strain of the virus in this outbreak has caused paralysis and the euthanasia of 3 horses.
EHV infections are incredibly common in horses and are the most common cause of equine respiratory disease worldwide. There are 9 types of EHV with EHV 1 and 4 being the most important in causing disease in horses. It has been shown that most mature horses are infected with EHV 1 or 4, or both during their life times.
Most of the time the virus that circulates amongst our horse population causes fairly mild and brief respiratory disease, so mild you may not even notice. In fact many horses have the virus “living” within their bodies without causing any clinical signs, these are called latent carriers.
Occasionally a more severe disease causing strain of EHV 1 may appear in a group and may spread. Abortion of foals in late pregnancy and nerve damage in the spinal cord are the most devastating manifestations of these disease causing strains. The virus can be brought into a yard via a new horse or via a horse with a latent infection reemerging when the horse is stressed or ill for another reason (similar to how cold sores appear in some people when they are ill or stressed).
If your mare aborts her pregnancy or if you have a horse that suddenly shows uncoordinated hindlimb movements (appears a bit drunk) then call us immediately and we will investigate the cause.
Vaccination against EHV 1 and 4 will reduce the amount of virus shed when a horse is infected and help reduce the spread of the virus. We advise that all pregnant mares should be vaccinated and horses that are on yards with horses moving on and off to shows/competitions should seriously consider vaccination. These horses will be at a higher risk of infection than those who are generally isolated from other horses.
Vaccination does not guarantee your horse will not suffer abortion or neurological disease but should show less clinical signs.
See the link below for sensible biosecurity measures when going to shows/competitions.
If you have any queries please call and speak to one of our vets.