Veterinarians host webinar on EHV-1 virus Feb. 2 at PC library

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Five veterinary offices will join together Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Polk County Public Library in Columbus to host a webinar focused on EHV-1 in equine animals.
The webinar will feature a lecture from Dr. Tom Ray of the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture, as well as a question and answer session.
“An affected horse can be saved with supportive care. This can be a long and extensive treatment,” Dr. Rachel Butterworth-Tice of Rutherford Large Animal Clinic said in an email. “The sooner a horse is treated, the better the chance of survival.”
Butterworth-Tice said the disease is an Equine Herpesvirus, usually associated with respiratory disease and in some cases late term abortion, neonatal foal death and neurological disease.
She added that it is important to note that the disease is contagious among equines but cannot be transmitted to other animals or humans.
Equines can catch the disease directly through horse-to-horse contact, contaminated hands, equipment or tack, and for a short time through aerosolization of the virus within the environment of the stall and stable. She said neither mosquitoes nor flies spread it.
Butterworth-Tice recently sent out an email with answers to some of the basic questions horse owners might have about the disease. Some of those questions and answers have been included below:
What are the signs of EHV-1?
The first symptom usually is a fever of 102°F or greater. Other presenting signs may be combinations of fever and respiratory symptoms of nasal discharge and cough. Some horses have reddish mucous membranes.
Affected horses that develop neurological disease develop signs 7-12 days after the initial fever. They typically become uncoordinated and have trouble walking and standing. Difficulty urinating and defecating may also occur. Often the rear limbs are more severely affected than the front. Other advanced signs include extreme lethargy, abnormal function of the eyes or face, difficulty swallowing, and a coma-like state.
What can I do to prevent my horse from getting this disease?
There is no vaccination for the neurological form of EHV-1 but there are vaccinations available to protect horses from most other forms of EHV-1. I recommend keeping your horse’s vaccination current for EHV, as it can help prevent the respiratory form and might have cross protection for the neurological form, although this is not proven.
Reduce or eliminate your horse’s exposure to other horses, especially new or different horses.
Reduce or eliminate stressful situations such as moving, showing or breeding.
When showing or traveling always bring your own water buckets, hay nets and supplies.  Do not share with other horses.
When spending time away from home, like at a show facility, do not pet, handle or otherwise touch other horses or their equipment before handling your own horse. Choose stalls that are furthest away from horse and people traffic.
What do I do if I think that my horse is showing signs of disease?
Call your veterinarian immediately; again, early treatment increases the chances of survival.
Do not move your horse to a new stable or facility until a diagnosis has been made.
Decontaminate equipment and the environment with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water.
Other sponsoring veterinary offices include Twin Oaks Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Chris Woodman, Thann Boyum and Freer Equine.
RSVP to the event is appreciated but not required. Call 864-895-8091.