EHV-1 is a virus, Equine Herpes Virus Type 1. It is also called the “rhino virus” or “rhinopneuomitis”.
The EHV-1 virus is extremely contagious.
EHV-1 virus spreads via nasal secretions, through touch, through the air and through objects that have been in contact with infected horses this includes hands and clothing of people.
Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1) can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal mortality and it can mutate to Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) a severe viral brain and spinal fluid infection.
All equines – horses, donkeys, mules, zebras can contract EHV-1 as can alpacas and llamas.
Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 (EHV-1) include high temperature, lethargy, clear runny nose, many horses only get the respiratory version and clear the virus after a few days however they should still be evaluated by a vet and isolated for at least 21 days or until any infectious disease has been ruled out.
Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) include high temperature, followed by a variety of possible neurologic signs which may include weakness, incoordination of the limbs, inability to urinate or pass manure, decreased tail tone. Signs are more apparent in the hindlimbs and in severe cases may progress to the inability to stand.
Prevention of EHV-1:
The best way to prevent EHV-1 exposure during suspected outbreaks is to quarantine your horses and yard / barn.
Practice bio-security in the yard see Minimising the risk of equine infectious diseases using biosecurity at the stable yard
If you think you may have been in contact with horses who have contracted EHV-1 start taking your horse’s temperature twice a day, if your horse’s temperature rises above normal (99-101°F (37.2-38.3°C) for an adult horse) contact your equine vet IMMEDIATELY.
There are several vaccines on the market to prevent the respiratory and abortion forms of the EHV-1 rhinovirus but there is currently no effective vaccine for the neurologic form of EHV-1. Your vet can advise you as to the best vaccine for your horse.