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January 24, 2012

EHV-1 outbreaks in California

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

We haven’t talked much about EHV-1 since last summer but it seems as though cases are continuing to pop up across the country.  The most recent report is of 11 horses at a boarding facility in Orange County, CA.  The multiple discipline facility in San Juan Capistrano (Approximately 1/2 way between Los Angeles and San Diego) has had 11 confirmed cases in the last week.

A horse was euthanized on January 18th with tests pending but most likely the horse was infected with EHV-1.  The outbreak was first spotted on January 11th when a gelding at the facility tested positive for the virus.  He was immediately quarantined but in the following days several other horses tested positive.

EHV-1 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Ataxia/Incoordination
  • Weakness of the hind end
  • Paralysis of the limbs

It is very important to understand that there is no specific treatment for EHV-1 and there are NO EQUINE VACCINES that protect against this neurological strain of the virus.  In fact, vaccinating your horse for the EHV-4 strain of the disease (which is a respiratory form of the disease) might in fact compromise your horse’s immune system therefore making them MORE susceptible to the neurologic strain.

The best way to help help your horse combat viruses is to make sure his/her immune and neurologic systems are strong and healthy and a good start is to supplement with Lysine.

L-Lysine is a critical building block for all protein in the body. It is an essential amino acid that cannot be created by the body, so it must be obtained by food or supplements. Using a L-Lysine horse supplement at times of stress is key to calcium absorption, building muscle protein, boosting the immune system and supporting the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies.

The most important steps in preventing the spread of EVH-1 are:

  • Limit your horse’s contact with other horses who may have been exposed to the disease or whose history is unknown
  • Do not share tack, buckets or grooming tools with unfamiliar horses
  • Do not let your horse rub noses with other horses
  • After handling a horse wash your hands before handling, touching or petting another horse
  • Abide by all quarantines when traveling in or out of an area infected with neurologic EHV-1

To check the latest outbreak information in your area, contact your State Veterinarian or you can go to Outbreak Alert to see a US map.

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