December 2016 - EHV-1 Outbreak Under Control

Equine Herpes Virus at Los Angeles Equestrian Center contained, although one horse was lost.

As of Sunday, Nov. 20, “there were no new febrile horses or confirmed clinical EHV-1 horses today at the LAEC,” confirmed the California Department of Food & Agriculture. That was good news for everyone with horses at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, indicating than an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) first detected Nov. 3 was well under control.

This non-neurological strain of the virus was first detected in horses who had returned from a Saddlebred show at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas in late October. Seven were then determined to have the neurological strain of EHV-1, called EHM (Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopthy). One of those had to be euthanized early on, due to the severity of symptoms, but the rest are recovering.

The EHV discovery was followed by quarantine for horses in initially two, then three, barns at the 500-horse LAEC. Twice daily temperature taking and constant monitoring for other signs of infection followed, with horses needing to go at least 14 days without symptoms or indicators in nasal swabs and blood tests to be considered past the risk.

CDFA state vets were on the case immediately. One trainer with horses in quarantine acknowledged that the experience has been an ordeal but praised the high caliber of preparedness and care provided by state veterinarians “as fantastic. They’ve established open lines of communication for everybody and they’re doing such a great job with each scenario.” Along with helping keep horses healthy, the veterinarians were terrific about the next biggest issue: keeping owners’ fears at bay in their willingness to explain the care protocols and sort truth from rumor, the trainer said.

The CDFA’s regular updates added that quarantined isolation was down to 10 horses as of Nov. 20.

The outbreak did disrupt some late season competitions. The LA Season Finale was moved from LAEC to the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center on two weeks notice. And the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas underwent special precautions to eradicate any trace of the virus before horses moved in in mid-November.

-by Kim F. Miller