February 28, 2018 – (Columbus, Ohio) – The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) would like to bring to the attention of our membership the importance of being informed about and taking precautions against the spread of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV). While you can be assured that this virus is not a human health threat, it can pose a serious threat to the life of a horse, including neurological damage and death.

The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) has recently reported cases of EHV in multiple states across the country. To see if your state is/has been affected, visit: http://www.equinediseasecc.org/alerts/outbreaks

What are the Signs of EHV?

The incubation period ( period of time from exposure to development of first clinical signs) ranges from 2 to 10 days. Symptoms may include fever of 102-107°F that lasts for 1-7 days, coughing, depression, going off feed, and nasal discharge. Signs of neurologic disease for EHV-1 and EHV-4 include mild incoordination, hindlimb paralysis, lying down and being unable to get up, loss of bladder and tail function, and loss of sensation to the skin around the tail and hindlimb areas.

How is EHV Transmitted?

Transmission occurs when infected and uninfected horses come in either direct (nose to nose contact) or indirect (through buckets, clothing, blankets at that are contaminated) contact with nasal discharges of infected horses. The virus can also travel in the air short distances.

What Precautions Can IEA Riders/Coaches/Parents Take to Prevent the Spread of EHV?

  1. Horses should be current on all vaccinations.
  2. Stable visiting horses so as to avoid direct contact between horses from different sites. Stalls should be disinfected before and after use. Do not share stalls with multiple horses.
  3. Do not share grooming supplies or equipment between barns/horses-including towels, brushes, mitts, pads, bridles, blankets, etc.
  4. Do not share buckets for feed or watering horses. Disinfect buckets before using for a different animal.
  5. Limit barn traffic. Designate horse handlers to specific barns. Use anti-microbial foot baths to sanitize boots upon entry and exit.
  6. Remind participants to abstain from petting the horse’s face and from petting multiple horses. Hand sanitizer should be used and/or hand washing should occur before necessary contact between animals.
  7. Do not allow nose-to-nose contact between any of the horses in barn or in holding areas.
  8. Change clothing before going to another equine facility.
  9. Contact your vet immediately if a horse is exhibiting signs of any illness. Determine detailed information specific to identified diseases, treatment, handing procedures and quarantine upon your vet’s advice.

Equine Herpes Virus infection can become a serious problem. Being aware of the types of EHV, clinical signs associated with the disease, transmission, diagnosis, treatment and especially, ways to protect your horses from infection, will aid you if there is an outbreak in your area. Incorporating measures to protect your horse now may prevent problems in the future.

The IEA is asking that all members follow the instructions of barns and horse providers hosting IEA shows regarding the handling of horses and precautionary measures. Unnecessary handling (kissing or touching the horse’s face, petting multiple horses, sharing equipment without disinfecting, etc.) should not be practiced.

Horses are a beloved and integral part of the IEA and we appreciate your help in keeping our Equine friends healthy and safe.

For additional resources about EHV, visit the United States Department of Agriculture.