A horse with neurological signs was reported by a private veterinary practitioner at Gulfstream Park, in Broward County, on November 8, 2016. The horse subsequently tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), wild type strain.
The horse became neurologic on November 6 and died of natural causes later the same day. Currently, no other horses at Gulfstream have presented with clinical signs consistent with EHV-1 infection.
The Division of Animal Industry is continuing their disease investigation and is requiring enhanced biosecurity measures for all barns on the premises. Additionally, all horses on the facility are required to be monitored for neurologic signs and have temperatures taken twice daily. All horses with temperatures greater than 101.5 are to be tested for EHV-1.
According to Veterinary Virology, Equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) is a virus of the family Herpesviridae that causes abortion, respiratory disease and occasionally neonatal mortality in horses.
Initial spread of EHV-1 by a newly introduced horse through direct and indirect contact can lead to abortion and perinatal infection in up to 70 percent of a previously unexposed herd. Abortion usually occurs in the last four months of gestation, two to four weeks after infection of the mare. Perinatal (around the time of birth) infection can lead to pneumonia and death. Encephalitis can occur in affected animals, leading to ataxia, paralysis, and death.
See more about EHV-1 in the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Although humans can’t be infected by EHV-1, they can aid in spreading it to their horses. Therefore, owners of affected horses should wash and disinfect their hands and change their clothes before coming into contact with healthy horses to prevent the potential spread of these infectious organisms.