MB Article - Equine Herpes Virus Confirmed in Florida

The Georgia Department of Agriculture wants equestrians to be aware of the recent cancellation of two large horse shows in Florida.  According to The Horse Magazine, The American Grand Prix Association Championship and the Christmas Festival Horse Show scheduled for December in Wellington, Florida were canceled due to an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) 1 in the immediate area.  Equine Herpes Virus is the agent for the disease, Equine Rhinopneumonitis, which has various clinical signs which may include fever, respiratory discharge, and/or abortion and rarely, neurological symptoms.

As of December 26, Florida agriculture officials have reported nine laboratory confirmed EHV- type 1 cases resulting in quarantine of ten affected premises.  Five deaths have been attributed to EHV in Florida's current outbreak.  Nine cases had neurological symptoms.  Horses from suspected stables in Florida are being monitored for fever and other clinical signs until state animal health authorities have determined the virus is under control.  The virus can usually be detected by a veterinary diagnostic laboratory through simple sample collections. For Florida updates see the Florida Department of Agriculture Web-site:  http://www.flanimalindustry.com/.

Equine Herpes Virus can cause a serious respiratory disease commonly known as Rhinopneumonitis that spreads through the air but generally requires direct or close contact between horses.  Rhinopneumonitis is present throughout the country.  Horses with clinical signs should be isolated at least 40 feet or more from other horses.  Sick horses should be examined by a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

There are many vaccines available against EHV although none are specific for the neurological form of the disease.  Vaccination offers protection against the Rhinopneumonitis, but is not recommended on premises where an outbreak or recent exposure is suspected.  Horse owners should discuss with their veterinarian whether vaccination is appropriate for their animals, the types of vaccines available, and the frequency of recommended vaccination. Supportive care is the treatment of choice for Rhinopneumonitis which, in the case of the neurological form, is usually disappointing.

In order to reduce exposure to all equine diseases, new additions to a facility should be isolated for four weeks to reduce disease transmission to other horses.  During isolation or a disease outbreak, biosecurity measures including disinfectant foot baths, hand washing, and appropriate isolation is recommended.

Laboratory confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Virus (Equine Rhinopneumonitis Type 1 and 4) are required to be reported to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (404) 656-3667 or 1-800-282-5852 or the USDA Area Veterinarian in Charge at (770) 922-7860.   See the Georgia Department of Agriculture Web-site for more information on EHV: www.agr.georgia.gov.



Billy Moss
Area Livestock Teacher
North Region FFA
204 Four Towers - UGA
Athens, GA  30602
Ph: 706-542-9775
F: 706-542-9602
"The Georgia 4-H and FFA youth livestock program
provides opportunites to develop life skills and
enhance knowledge in an ethical manner."