Kalispell, Mont. – The Montana Department of Livestock has issued a recommendation to cancel all equine events in Flathead County after four horses were recently euthanized for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). EHV-1 may change into a more extreme condition, known as EHM. This unfortunate mutation can lead to deadly respiratory and neurological illnesses, often leading to the death of affected animals.
The horse virus has been devastating to many local businesses, including the Majestic Valley Arena. Staff at the arena have sadly reported that they are losing money due to canceling events, yet understand it is necessary in order to ensure equine safety and health. They remain committed to doing what it takes for horses across Montana during these trying times.
A local equine vet told local reporters about the virus and what it could mean for the future. The Equine Herpes Virus is a typical respiratory malady among horses that share symptoms similar to those of the common cold among humans; however, what makes this strain dangerous is its lethal potential.
“There is one version of the virus that can create what we call EHM which is equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, which could create neurological disease and cause horses to have paralysis. So it’s something that we have in the horse community we’ve had respiratory outbreaks here. We’ve had other forms of the virus but recently we’ve had the myeloencephalopathy, which is a little bit more serious,“ explained La Salle Equine Clinic veterinarian Bob Genovese to 8 KPAX news.
The origin of how the virus made its way to Flathead is unknown, but it could have been transferred from a different state. Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) can be so severe that families are at risk of losing their horse altogether.
“The hard thing is, is when somebody loses a horse, it’s really devastating to the family, especially when there’s kids involved,” said Genovese.
Despite the fact that EHM’s current outbreak is not expected to have a lasting effect, it is still important to take steps in order to slow its spread.
The upcoming Brash Winter Series Rodeo which was scheduled to start today and run into tomorrow was one of the events that were canceled.