Don’t Just Worry. Practise Equine Biosecurity

staff / The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer issued an alert Oct. 19 urging Manitoba horse owners to incorporate basic biosecurity into their horse handling and travels after reports that a recent outbreak of Equine herpes virus myelonencephalopathy (EHM) may have a Brandon connection.

Three horses from an out-of-province facility began exhibiting clinical signs consistent with the virus Oct. 2 and one has since tested positive for the Equine herpes virus 1 (EHV1). Two of the three horses have succumbed, the alert issued by the province s chief vet, Dr. Wayne Lees said.

While none of the infected horses had been in Manitoba, other horses from the same facility had travelled to a horse show in Brandon during the same time frame. A horse from another out-of-province facility that came into contact with those horses in Brandon, is now exhibiting clinical signs of EHV1, but a diagnosis was not confirmed.

No infected horses have been reported in Manitoba to date.

EHV1 is a common, very contagious virus in horse populations that causes respiratory disease, abortion outbreaks and rarely the neurologic disease known as EHM. Reported cases of EVH1, especially EHM, have been on the rise across North America.

Additionally there have been several outbreaks of EHM linked to horse shows and large equine facilities, including a new strain of the virus, called neurotropic Equine herpes virus 1 (nEHV1).

Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their horses against EHV1 and implement basic biosecurity precautions such as not sharing equipment, tack, feed buckets, water buckets or trailers outside of usual herd groups.

Limit direct contact between horses from different locations at events. Consider isolating horses returning from shows or new herd members for 14 days. Immediately isolate sick horses and contact a vet.

Use disposable gloves and immediately change clothing and footware after handling sick horses.

Clean and disinfect all equipment and environment exposed to sick horses. Disinfectants, such as bleach are not effective unless a thorough cleaning has occurred first.

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