The University of Pennsylvania’s large animal hospital, New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is under a self-imposed equine quarantine for Equine Herpes Myeloencephalitis (EHM). New Bolton Center has canceled all elective, equine appointments pending further instructions from the regional state veterinarian.
New Bolton Center will receive equine or camelid (also susceptible to Equine Herpesvirus or EHV-1) emergency admissions only during this time. All cows, goats, sheep, or pig patients can be admitted and discharged without restriction. Field Service operations are unaffected and the Center will continue to receive appointments for non-equine animals. Reproductive services at the Hofmann Center are fully operational.
On Tuesday, January 16th, a horse recently admitted to the hospital for non-neurologic symptoms, tested positive for EHV-1, and was ultimately displaying signs compatible with EHM. Of particular relevance to the larger equine community, this horse had a non-traditional presentation for EHM; including a single low grade fever and several days of normal temperature prior to the development of neurologic signs.
New Bolton Center is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to contain any possible spread of the infection and to determine the duration of the quarantine. Owners and referring veterinarians of the horses still at New Bolton are being notified and biosecurity measures have been implemented to protect hospitalized horses.
EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion in mares, neonatal foal death and neurological disease. The neurological form of the disease is known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) and may be caused by damage to blood vessels of the brain and spinal cord associated with EHV-1 infection. EHM is most often due to the neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1, but may occasionally be caused by the non-neuropathogenic strain of the virus.
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EHV-1 is easily spread and typically has an incubation period between 2-10 days. Respiratory shedding of the virus generally occurs for 7-10 days, but may persist longer in infected horses. For this reason, a twenty-one day isolation period of confirmed positive EHM cases is recommended along with stringent biosecurity protocols. Similar to herpes viruses in other species, the latent form of EHV-1 can reactivate at a later date, but generally with a low viral load posing a low risk of infecting other horses. Humans are not at risk of contracting the virus, however humans can act as an indirect mode of transmission.
The disease does not affect humans or ruminants, but can negatively impact camelids.
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