Equine herpesvirus or EHV is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause serious respiratory, neurologic, and reproductive diseases in horses. It is an important health concern for all horse owners, breeders, and trainers.
What is Equine Rhinopneumonitis?
Equine rhinopneumonitis (ER) is a contagious respiratory disease of horses caused by Equine Herpesviruses 1 and 4 (EHV-1 and EHV-4).
Equine Herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) is a virus that can infect horses, and other equids such as donkeys, mules, and zebras. It is highly contagious and can spread easily through contact with an infected horse or contaminated equipment such as tack, buckets, blankets, or brushes.
Equine herpesvirus-3 (EHV-3), also known as equine coital exanthema, is a member of the Herpesviridae family and causes genital lesions in horses. It is spread through direct contact with the affected animal or indirectly through contaminated objects, such as grooming tools. Clinical signs of EHV-3 include reddening and swelling of the genitals, skin lesions on the lower abdomen, hindquarters and flanks, as well as fever and lethargy.
Equine herpesvirus (EHV-4) is a contagious virus that commonly affects horses of all ages, but is most common in young horses. The virus can be spread through contact with nose and eye secretions, aerosolized respiratory droplets, or contaminated objects, such as tack and grooming equipment.
Equine herpesvirus-1 and -4 are highly contagious. They spread through direct contact with infected horses, especially when nose-to-nose contact is involved. The virus can also spread through contaminated objects such as brushes, buckets, or water troughs. In addition, the virus is believed to become airborne in contaminated dust or aerosols from coughing or sneezing horses.
Symptoms of equine rhinopneumonitis, caused by equine herpesvirus, can range from mild to severe. In the early stages, horses may show signs of fever, lethargy, depression, not eating, and nasal discharge. As the virus progresses, more serious symptoms can develop such as coughing, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. Some horses may even develop neurological signs, including loss of bladder function, paralysis, or death.
The diagnosis of Equine Rhinopneumonitis can be confirmed through laboratory testing. Samples from the horse’s nasal secretions and respiratory tract may be taken for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, which detects the presence of the virus. Blood tests may also be performed to detect the presence of antibodies to the herpes virus in the horse’s serum.
Equine Rhinopneumonitis is a viral infection, and as such cannot be cured with antibiotics. Treatment will focus on controlling the symptoms and providing supportive care. This may include rest, fluids to prevent dehydration, anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics (to treat secondary infections), and supplemental oxygen for horses with severe respiratory distress. In some cases, antiviral drugs can be used as well. It is important to remember that even with treatment, recovery from this virus can take several weeks or longer.
In severe cases, the horse may need to be hospitalized in order to receive intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy and other treatments. It is also important to isolate any horses that have been diagnosed with this virus, as it is highly contagious and can spread quickly within a herd or barn.
Vaccines are available for both Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 (EHV-1) and Rhinopneumonitis. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent your horse from becoming infected with either virus. It is recommended that horses be vaccinated annually against both EHV-1 and Rhinopneumonitis. It is also important to practice good hygiene and biosecurity when handling horses, including avoiding sharing equipment between horses or stables. Vaccination alone may not be sufficient to prevent a horse from contracting the virus, so it is important to take all precautions necessary to reduce the risk of infection.
Which system can be affected by equine herpesvirus?
Equine herpesvirus can affect the respiratory, reproductive, and nervous systems of horses.
How long can EHV live on surfaces?
EHV can live on surfaces for up to 7 days.
What disinfectant for EHV?
To disinfect surfaces that may have been exposed to EHV, the use of a bleach solution (1:10 ratio of bleach and water) is recommended. Additionally, it is important to practice good biosecurity measures such as avoiding contact with other horses and minimizing movement in and out of premises.
What is the incubation period for EHV?
The incubation period for EHV can range from 2-10 days, depending on the strain.
Equine Herpesvirus (Rhinopneumonitis)