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Reprinted from The Horse Report (April 2007) with permission from the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis. Equine herpesvirus-1 is one of a large group of viruses that causes potentially serious disease in horses. EHV-1 occurs throughout the world and indeed almost all horses older than 2 years of age have been exposed to it, similar to the herpes simplex type 1 virus in humans, which affects about 85% of the world population sometime during childhood. The neurological form of EHV-1 is not a new disease, but the evidence currently supports the observation that it is emerging as a more virulent strain than in the past. How Horses Become SickEHV-1-induced neurological injury occurs when large numbers of the virus damage small blood vessels in the brainand spinal cord. EHV-1 is contagious and is spread by direct horse-to-horse contact, by contaminated hands, equipment and tack, and for a short time, through aerosolization of the virus within the environment of the stall and stable. It is also possible that stress factors may reactivate the virus and elicit the onset of clinical signs. Clinical Signs of EHV-1The initial clinical signs of EHV-1 infection may be nonspecific and include fever of 102°F or greater.
Horses with the neurological form of EHV-1 can soon become uncoordinated and weak and have difficulty standing. VaccinationsWhile several vaccines are available for protection against the respiratory and abortogenic forms of EHV-1, at this time there is no equine vaccine that has a label claim for protection against the neurological strain of the virus. Until such time as a vaccine is developed to protect horses from the neurological form of EHV-1, the best way to prevent the spread of disease is through isolation, quarantine and the practice of biosecurity—a series of management steps taken to prevent the introduction of infectious agents into a herd. Equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) shows endotheliotropism in the central nervous system (CNS) of infected horses. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. References1.Allen GP, Bryans JT (1986) Molecular epizootiology, pathogenesis, and prophylaxis of equine herpesvirus-1 infections.
Equine industry professionals including association leaders, veterinarians, regulatory animal health officials and horse owners are encouraged to attend this meeting in order to gain a better understanding of this issue.
Diseases to be discussed at this event include: equine herpesvirus 1, vesicular stomatitis, equine infectious anemia, strangles, pigeon fever, equine influenza, equine piroplasmosis and others.
Currently communications on equine disease outbreaks present a number of challenges in reaching all levels of horse ownership. ARPAS has approved 15 continuing education credits for attendance to the Equine Diseases Forum.
Vaccinations are a reliable, effective and simple aid in the prevention and control of several horse diseases including tetanus, strangles, Hendra virus, equine herpes virus, rhodococcus (rattles), rotavirus, and salmonella.
A bacterium (Clostridium tetani) that is commonly found in the environment, particularly in soil, dust and manure. Eventually the horse will be unable to get up, the limbs will become increasingly rigid and finally the horse will be unable to breathe.
Antitoxin injections can be administered by your veterinarian, along with medication to control the spasms in the muscles and supportive therapy.
The horse will develop a fever , show signs of depression, stop eating and have a profuse nasal discharge. Lymph nodes (glands) in the throat become swollen and painful and the horse may have difficulty breathing and swallowing. The swollen areas of the throat may eventually rupture and exude a thick, creamy - yellow pus.
Good nursing is essential to make the horse feel more comfortable and help it with eating and drinking. Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease which means it can be transferred from animals to humans. There are a broad range of signs and not all may be present in any one horse, but there is generally rapid deterioration with associated respiratory or nervous signs. Respiratory Signs - Respiratory distress, increased heart rate and a nasal discharge that progresses from white froth to blood stained at or near death.


Because the disease is transmissible to humans, at the present time all horses that contract Hendra virus are required by Biosecurity Australia to be euthanased.
Strict personal protection equipment (PPE) MUST be used by persons handling horses suspected of having Hendra virus. Horses develop a fever, depression, loss of appetite and acute respiratory disease with coughing and a nasal discharge. There is no specific treatment, but nursing care and antibiotic treatment by your veterinarian will help to minimise secondary bacterial complications. The initial course of two injections 4-6 weeks apart should be commenced at 5 months of age, followed by booster vaccinations every 6 months.
Mares that have had their initial course should be vaccinated at 5, 7 and 9 months of their pregnancy to help control abortions.
Foals develop a high fever, depression, have a thick greenish-white nasal discharge and a cough with a typically ‘rattley sound.
Your veterinarian may prescribe a prolonged course of antibiotics and supportive fluid therapy for foals that become severely dehydrated. Management strategies such as good pasture rotation, minimising dust in yards, removing manure in contaminated paddocks and ensuring that foals have adequate antibody levels will help. An effective vaccine is not yet commercially available, but foals can be tested for antibody levels (an immunoglobulin or IGG test) when 24 hours old and plasma administered by your veterinarian if the antibody levels are too low. A vaccine is available for mares and should be given at the 8th, 9th and 10th months of pregnancy.
In a mild case there may be moderate depression, fever, loss of appetite and soft, but not watery, faeces.
Veterinary treatment is essential and consists of massive fluid therapy and medications to control the inflammatory bowel response.
Mares - An initial course of two injections 4 weeks apart followed by a booster 6 weeks before foaling. Foals– An initial course of two injections 4 weeks apart and a 3rd dose 6 months later followed by annual boosters.
Following initial exposure, EHV-1 has the ability to develop into an inapparent, latent infection—that is, it remains in a dormant state and does not produce any clinical signs. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the clustering of outbreaks in certain regions of the country—primarily the eastern United States—could be related to where high-level performance horses are located or where they tend to travel. It is possible that a strain of EHV-1 has a mutation that allows the virus to reproduce rapidly to create very high levels of EHV-1 in the blood. This leads to inflammation of the blood vessels and the formation of clots that obstruct the flow of blood through the circulatory system or hemorrhages into the nervous tissue.
Therefore, to prevent the spread of infection, it is essential to institute isolation and quarantine measures immediately. These stress factors may include stress from transport, strenuous physical exercise, suppressed immune system, and excessive fatigue.
Once a fever occurs, clinical signs can progress to nervous system involvement over the next 1 to 7 days.
This forum will work to improve disease control efforts that are intended to enhance communications between health officials, veterinarians and horse owners.
The cost and effort of vaccination is very small compared with the probable financial and emotional cost of treatment. It is spread by flying foxes to horses when horses eat or drink the bodily fluids from the flying foxes. Some strains may also show neurological signs with mild incoordination, loss of bladder and tail control and some skin desensitisation around the vulval area.
It lives in the soil and is ingested from the pasture and also spread by nose to nose contact.
Foals can suffer serious dehydration and mal-absorption (inability to obtain nutrients due to severe diarrhoea).
Supportive veterinary treatment is essential with fluid therapy and extra nutrition either intravenously or by stomach tube.


Can be caused by contaminated feed or water, or by contact with animals actively shedding the bacteria. In more severe cases there will be severe depression, profuse watery diarrhoea and often abdominal pain. This ability to reside as a silent and persistent infection in horses provides a reservoir of virus that may play a role in transmission. However, since this disease is not well understood, other factors could also play a role in these outbreaks. Since it has a preference for nervous tissue it can produce a fulminating disease (one that occurs suddenly and with great intensity) that rapidly leads to death. Ultimately, this results in tissue infarct (tissue that is dead or dying because of a lack of blood supply) or a restriction in blood supply to regions of the brain and spinal cord, with resultant damage or dysfunction to tissues. Other signs may be combinations of fever and respiratory symptoms of nasal discharge and cough. To explore the basis for this difference in endotheliotropism, we compared the susceptibility of equine brain microvascular endothelial cells (EBMECs) and mouse brain microvascular endothelial cells (MBMECs) to EHV-1 infection.
It can spread from horse to horse by direct contact with body fluids or by indirect contact with contaminated equipment.
Stress such as surgery, change of diet, travel or another existing disease appears to play an important role in the development of the disease.
This latter form is of particular concern because it results in a high death rate, it is resistant to prevention by vaccination, and it affects horses of all breeds, ages and vaccination status. However, in other individuals—even in the face of outbreaks—the virus appears to be restricted to latency, much like the herpes simplex type 1 virus in humans.
This is not unlike what happens when cardiac blood supply is impaired in human heart attack. The kinetics of viral growth in EBMECs was typical of a fully productive infection whereas viral infection in MBMECs seemed to be nonproductive. In: MacGavin MD, Carlton WW, Zachary JF (eds) Tomson’s special veterinary pathology, 3rd edn. Us is flanked by an internal and terminal repetitive sequence (IRs and TRs) of about 10.3 kb. They can have nasal shedding of the organism for several weeks after clinical signs of the disease have disappeared.
It has the potential to cause catastrophic losses to both the health of horses and the economy of the horse industry.
Signs of brain dysfunction may occur as well, including extreme lethargy and a coma-like state.
Immunofluorescence microscopy using anti-EHV-1 polyclonal antibody demonstrated viral antigen in infected EBMECs, but not infected MBMECs. TheBam HI andEco RI restriction maps are similar to those previously published for an English isolate EHV 4.1942 strain [4] although some differences such as location of an additional fragment and changes in positions of two other small fragments were found. However, none of these genes was detected in infected MBMECs by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Electron microscopic examination at the stage of viral entry showed that viral particles were present within uncoated vesicles in the cytoplasm of EBMECs, but absent from those of MBMECs. These results suggest that viral entry is an important determinant of the susceptibility of EBMECs and MBMECs to EHV-1 infection.
Isolation and characterization of equine rhinopneumonitis virus and other equine herpesviruses from horses.



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