As I’m sure you will already aware from the equine press and social media, there has been a high profile outbreak of EHV at Badminton in Gloucestershire. Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) can cause four clinical syndromes: respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal foal death and neurological disease. EHV always enters by the respiratory tract and is ubiquitous within horse populations. Neurological disease caused by EHV is much rarer, but can be devastating. Clinical signs of EHV infection are usually limited to mild respiratory disease, but horses in the recent outbreaks in Gloucestershire have developed the neurological form of EHV-1 disease. This can cause a range of symptoms from mild in coordination and weakness to life-threatening paralysis. The British Equine Federation (BEF) have produced a comprehensive factsheet for EHV:
Vaccination is available to EHV-1 and EHV-4; however this is not protective against the neurological disease. EHV vaccination in the face of an outbreak is not recommended. However, for the general horse population vaccination, combined with biosecurity and hygiene measures, will reduce the risk of your horse getting the virus.
During an outbreak, such as this, the best way to protect your horse is good biosecurity. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has launched a set of guidelines for horse owners and event co-ordinators to help minimise the risk of any infectious disease spread:
The BEF have also produced excellent biosecurity guidelines:
If you require any further information about EHV please ring and discuss this with our equine vets.