Equine Herpes Virus


Equine Herpes Virus is often times a mild disease in horses and is caused by EHV-1.  When this virus infects a horse, there is a time that the horse is often shedding the virus in nasal secretions with or without clinical signs.  If the horse gets a high viral load in the blood, then there is an increased chance that this horse will become neurological.  We say these horses have Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM). Often times these horses are still shedding virus into the environment.  Non-neuropathic EHV-1 strain and Neuropathic EHV-1 strain classifications are somewhat confusing as both strains can lead to neurologic involvement.

This disease has broken out in 5 racetracks around the US.  There are also cases of showing up of horses that have been to rodeo type events here in Arizona as well as training facilities in Wyoming to name a few.

It is recommended that if your horse is showing signs of disease not to take it to an event and work with your veterinarian when it come to vaccinations for your equine companion.  Also think twice before sharing tack, buckets or grooming supplies as these can spread the virus.

Below is the press release for Turf Paradise Racetrack and further down is some more detailed information on EHM with thanks to the Equine Disease website.


NEWS RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharma Torrens, 602-542-3191, storrens@azda.gov

Quarantine in Place to Contain Equine Herpes Virus

Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) Director Mark Killian ordered the quarantine of a barn at Turf Paradise Racetrack today in response to the reported case of a neurotropic form of Equine Herpes Virus – 1 (EHV-1) in one horse housed at the track.

Investigations are underway to identify any other horses that may have been exposed to EHV-1. The AZDA State Veterinarian and the Arizona Department of Gaming Division of Racing are working with officials at Turf Paradise to quarantine and monitor any other potentially exposed horses. Track management is also requiring strict biosecurity measures be practiced by all horse-owners and other personnel during this quarantine period.

Equine Herpes Virus -1 is highly contagious among horses but poses no threat to humans. The symptoms in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness, dribbling of urine and diminished tail tone. The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated.

State Veterinarian, Dr. Peter Mundschenk, encourages Arizona horse-owners to contact their veterinarian for medical questions and to contact the State Veterinarian’s Office (602-542-4293) for quarantine questions and reminds Arizona veterinarians to report any horses exhibiting neurological signs to the State Veterinarian immediately.

Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy

Disease Type: This disease is caused by the EHV1 virus which is common in the horse population. In extremely rare cases, EHV4 can develop into EHM.

Transmission: EHV1 is spread from horse to horse through contact with nasal discharge or spread as aerosol droplets. Horses can also contract the virus by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces such as stalls, water, feed, tack, and transport vehicles. Humans can spread the virus from horse to horse by contaminated hands and clothing.

Frequency: Although EHV1 and EHV4 are a relatively common cause of a mild respiratory disease, EHM, the neurologic form caused by either EHV1 or EHV4, is not common.

Incubation period: Ranges from 2 to 10 days. Horses can shed the virus during the incubation period.

Carrier status: Infected horses are carriers and can shed the virus even when showing no clinical signs.

Latency: EHV is a viral disease that most horses have been infected with at some point in their life. It is unknown why this virus produces the neurological form in some horses. Horses that have had EHV1 may be carriers and the virus may be latent and reoccur under periods of stress such as transport or a new activity.

Severity: EHM is life threatening.

Clinical signs:

FeverThis virus typically causes a biphasic (two phase) fever. The horse will have fever on day 1 or 2 and again on day 6 or 7. Neurological signs may not present until the second fever. Some horses may not develop a fever.

  • Nasal discharge
  • Depression
  • Incoordination
  • Hind limb weakness
  • Loss of tail tone
  • Loss of bladder toneurine dribbling or inability to urinate
  • Dog sitting position
  • Leaning against a fence or wall to maintain balance
  • Recumbencyinability to rise

Diagnosis: The diagnosis is made by having a veterinarian collect nasal swabs and whole blood collected from the horse. Horses with neurologic signs which test positive for EHV1 are considered positive for EHM.

Treatment: There is no cure for EHM. Supportive care is administered including the use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as phenylbutazone (Bute) or flunixin meglumine (Banamine) to reduce fever, inflammation, and pain. Corticosteroids have been used but there is no evidence of benefit. Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir and valacyclovir have been used but their value in horses with EHV infection is unknown.

Prognosis: Prognosis for horses who test positive for EHV and then develop neurologic signs of EHM is often poor with fatality as high as 30%. In rare cases, horses with neurologic signs can recover from the infection but may retain neurologic deficits.

Prevention: Currently, there is no USDA licensed EHV1 vaccine which is proven to protect against the neurological disease associated with EHV1. The best method of protection is always to maintain current EHV vaccinations on all horses on your property and to follow correct biosecurity protocol when bringing new horses onto your premises, when travelling, or during any activity where horses may come together.

Biosecurity: EHV1, and rarely EHV4, has the potential to cause EHM so biosecurity measures appropriate for EHV1 should be taken. EHV1 is spread via aerosol particles from nasal discharge or from contaminated surfaces including people, clothing, feed and water, implements, and stalls; isolation of affected or exposed horses is critical to preventing spread of the virus. Proper biosecurity measures include extensive cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and equipment that come in contact with affected horses. Individuals treating or coming into contact with infected horses need to follow appropriate disinfection protocols when handling multiple horses (Go To: http://equinediseasecc.org/biosecurity.aspx ).




Merry Christmas 2016

As we close out 2016, I would like to say as Howdy as your State Veterinarian and look forward to working with everyone in 2017.  I plan on keeping up on this blog to let everyone know what is happening around the state.

Came across the following  poem for Christmas enjoy!

Peter Mundschenk State Veterinarian

A Rifle for Christmas

Christmas is about a lot of things. But at it’s very core, it’s about our relationships with God and each other. Here’s a story to remind us of that.
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve, 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted so bad that year for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible; instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said.  “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.”

I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job, I could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy.

When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.”

The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood—the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?

Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?”

You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.

Sure, I’d been by, but so what? “Yeah,” I said, “why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood.  I followed him.

We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked.

“Shoes. They’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?”

“Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?”

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children—sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said, then he turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring enough in to last for a while.  Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”

I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes, too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that I’d never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord himself has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it, I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, “‘May the Lord bless you,’ I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysacks and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

-Rian B. Anderson from A Christmas Prayer

Turf Paradise EHV update

(Phoenix) On January 28, 2016 the Department of Agriculture quarantined horses at Turf Paradise after an incident concerning a very contagious virus.  The quarantine requires all horses at the track to stay and for no horses to come onto the property for 21 days.

The quarantine follows three horses coming into the state from Dona Ana County, New Mexico where five horses were diagnosed with Equine Herpes Virus last week.  The New Mexico Livestock Board issued a quarantine for several locations, but the horses at Turf Paradise left before the restrictions were in place.

Turf Paradise immediately isolated the three horses following that disease report and monitored for clinical signs.  The track is also requiring strict biosecurity measures for all horse owners and personnel at the track.

“This virus type can cause severe neurological symptoms, which one of the horses that came from New Mexico developed,” said Acting State Veterinarian Sue Gale, DVM.  “The case is not confirmed by testing yet, but is considered to be probable case of the virus.”

Equine Herpes Virus is highly contagious among horses but poses no threat to humans. The symptoms in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness, dribbling of urine and diminished tail tone.

The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated.

“If horse owners notice these symptoms, they should contact their personal vet,” said Dr. Gale.  “If veterinarians see a horse with these symptoms, they need to report the case to the state veterinarian.

Officials at Turf Paradise say the track will remain open and that there is no concern for people who attend the races.  Officials with the Department of Agriculture, Racing Commission, and Turf Paradise will continue to work together to resolve the issue.

Western Blend horse feed, 50 lb. bags, lot 5251 recalled for toxic ingredient

If you buy Western Blend horse feed in 50 lb. bags (manufactured by Western Milling), check the label.  If the lot number is 5251, do not feed it to your horses.  This feed has been recalled because it may contain a feed additive, Monensin, that is intended for cattle but toxic to horses.

Signs of poisoning in horses from this feed additive can range from poor appetite and refusal to eat the grain product, to weakness, depression, wobbly gait, or sudden death.

The feed subject to this recall was distributed in September 2015 to stores in California and Arizona.  Of the 1100 bags under recall, all but 67 have been reclaimed by the company.

Click the link below to read the full recall notice from the FDA.

Western Milling recall notice