On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) began receiving accounts of horses exposed to equine herpes virus type 4 (EHV-4) and Streptococcus equi bacterial infection (also known as strangles or equine distemper). Both diseases are highly contagious among horses, and strangles is listed on the National List of Reportable Animal Diseases.


The NDA’s state veterinarian, Dr. JJ Goicoechea, DVM, recommends postponing this weekend’s high school rodeo in Moapa Valley because some horses present at last weekend’s rodeo in Boulder City are now showing signs of disease.

“Horses that were exposed last weekend may not exhibit clinical signs for several weeks, and we run the risk of exposing additional horses at the rodeo this weekend,” Dr. Goicoechea said. “We may be issuing quarantine orders once confirmed. Our primary focus is stopping the spread and protecting our equine population.”

EHV-4 and strangles are both upper respiratory diseases that can cause lifelong illness in infected animals. There are accounts of diseased horses from earlier this winter, but no reports were made to the NDA. The NDA is working with local veterinarians, Nevada equestrian event associations and industry associations in an attempt to minimize exposure and slow the spread of disease.

“All horse owners should consult with their veterinarian to ensure vaccinations are current,” Goicoechea added. “If you suspect your horse may be exhibiting signs of illness, contact your veterinarian and do not allow contact with other horses.”