Florida Department Of Agriculture And Consumer Services Continues Investigation Into Horse Virus Outbreak

TALLAHASSEE –Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson says the department’s Division of Animal Industry is continuing the investigation into the presence of Equine Herpesvirus – type 1 (EHV-1) in several areas of the state including Wellington, Jupiter and the Ocala, Florida area.  No cases of the disease have been detected in Texas. EHV-1 can be a serious disease of horses and the virus can spread through the air from the respiratory route of affected horses. Transmission can also occur through contaminated equipment, clothing and hands.

So far, seven horses have tested positive for the virus through lab tests. All confirmed cases are under quarantine.

The Division of Animal Industry in Florida is working closely with veterinarians and equine facilities in the impacted locations to monitor the animals and assist with testing. 

Owners with sick horses should contact their private veterinarian to examine and treat their horses. Veterinarians suspecting EHV-1 with neurological signs are advised to contact state officials and follow protocols for collecting and submitting appropriate samples for laboratory diagnosis. 

Below are the Clinical Signs of EHV-1: 
Respiratory signs may be minimal and of short duration.
Increased rectal temperature may be the only clinical sign
Horses can have two fever spikes
The initial rise in rectal temperature is usually mild-101.5 to 102.5°F
After the initial temperature rise, which may be missed, the horse can either be clinical normal, develop respiratory signs of nasal discharge, increased temperature (> 102.5), minimal coughing, can abort if pregnant, or, in a small number of cases develop neurological signs
Neurological signs: Horses become ataxic (incoordination), inability to empty bladder, and weakness of the tail.  Some horses will become completely paralyzed; the prognosis for these horses is poor.  In a small number of cases, horses can show abnormal mentation and develop cranial nerve signs.  Most horses become mildly to moderately neurologic and stabilize rapidly.  The neurologic signs can persist but most horses are normal by 3 to 6 months after onset of clinical signs.
Abortion: pregnant horses can experience spontaneous abortion between 7 days and several months after exposure.  The mare will exhibit limited initial signs.