Published: 08/02/2013 12:00:31
AHT EXPERT comments on recent EQUINE HERPESVIRUS OUTBREAK
We are actively involved with on-going research into equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) and work directly with owners, trainers, regulatory authorities and breeders associations to control any disease outbreaks arising from EHV-1 infection.
Our work is carried out through a dedicated EHV-1 surveillance programme, which is financially supported by annual contributions from the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA).
Samples taken from horses suspected of suffering from EHV-1 related diseases are tested in our diagnostic laboratories. If infection with the EHV-1 virus is confirmed, then we work directly with the veterinary surgeon attending the affected horses and the owner of the yard or stud. This is done in order to control the outbreak and prevent it from spreading to other horses and then to get the premises safely back to normal activity.
About the recent EHV-1 outbreaks, Dr Richard Newton has said: “The AHT diagnoses neurological EHV-1 almost every year but the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 are a little bit unusual in that we have seen several outbreaks occurring close together in time, although not seemingly related in any obvious way.
“The AHT have diagnosed four neurological EHV-1 outbreaks since the middle of November in various different locations, with three in the West and one in the East of England. The important thing is that the outbreaks are recognised early, vets called and appropriate action taken to limit spread from the affected yards to other animals.”
Although EHV-1 is relatively common and many horses carry the virus in a latent form, when it is active it can be particularly devastating, especially when it causes abortion in pregnant mares or less commonly neurological disease, which can be fatal as recumbent horses often require euthanasia.
At the present time there is no vaccine that is licensed as being effective against the neurological form of the disease. “The main take home message about EHV-1” Richard says, “is that it is something of a perennial problem that the horse industry has to manage appropriately from time to time but will not be able to realistically eradicate because much of the horse population is latently infected with the virus.”
However, we are currently conducting a five-year long study into the EHV-1 virus, which is mainly funded by the Alborada Trust. This research project aims to better understand the virus, so that a more successful vaccine may one day be created.
In the light of recent Equine HerpesVirus (EHV-1) outbreaks, we have launched a set of guidelines for horse owners and event co-ordinators to help minimise the risk of any infectious disease spread.
You can download our guidelines for avoiding the inadvertent spread of equine disease here.
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