Bend, Ore. – The State Veterinarian with the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced this week that two horses had recently tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1) and had been humanely euthanized. The press release reported that both horses were from Deschutes County.
A delay in the reporting of one of the horses has a number of equestrians up-in-arms on social media. Many other horse owners across the state are now on edge– worried about the prospects of an outbreak similar to that seen recently in California.
The first horse tested positive on May 4th, with confirmation coming from a out-of-state lab. The horse reportedly had visited the Prairie Complex at Oregon Horse Center (OHC) for an event in Eugene from April 22-25. According to OHC’s Manager Annie Fike, the NW Gaited Horse Associated (NWGHA) was in charge of this particular event.
A post made to the NWGHA’s Facebook page on May 18th confirmed the group had been made aware of the EHV-1 diagnosis of the horse involved. Nancy O’Dell Plunkett, President of the NWGHA, told NW Horse Report that they had also just been informed about the positive case of EHV-1 through the ODA’s press release. “We didn’t know anything about this until the State vet put together their announcement.” said Plunkett.
“Unfortunately, due to delayed reporting, this case was only recently shared with the department.”, according to the statement released by State Veterinarian Ryan Scholz. The press release went on to explain the second horse became symptomatic on May 13th.
“We do not have any reason to believe that the two horses with EHV-1 exposed any other horses at the Oregon Horse Center.” said Liz Beeles, a Public Affairs Specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, further saying, “There have not been any cases at the Oregon Horse Center.”
Beeles was also asked why OHC was included in their recent report, which has since stirred many equestrians across the northwest. “The only recent travel history that each of these horses had was to the Oregon Horse Center, which is why it was reported.” said Beeles.
While also confirming there was ultimately not a belief that the horses contracted EHV-1 at the Oregon Horse Center, Plunkett did further express that she and the NWGHA are strong advocates for proper horse care, encouraging equestrians to also ensure they vaccinate their horses to “proper standards”.
“There were a series of things that extended the time before the first case was reported. The veterinarian waited to get lab confirmation back, which took about a week.” said Beeles in explaining the delay.
Beeles further outlined Oregon rules regarding veterinarians having a duty to report. “Any person practicing veterinary medicine in this state shall immediately notify the department by telephone upon observing clinical evidence of any of the following diseases.” which includes equine herpesvirus.
The horses owner, Nancy Cox, did not return a request for comment prior to publication. Plunkett stated that Cox was simply an exhibitor in the show, but was not a member of the NWGHA.
This made it unclear if the veterinarian was required to have made the report to the state veterinarian prior to the return of the lab results. A request for additional clarification from the ODA was not received before publication.
When Oregon Horse Center was asked about their feelings concerning Cox’s failure to also report the case to them, “…we are very disappointed. We would like to think the vast majority of horse owners are very concerned with biosecurity practices and would absolutely be in immediate communication with any facility they had been to within the month prior to the diagnosis. ” said Fike.
Plunkett also said she was disappointed having not been informed by Cox, but also expressed her displeasure at the prospect of NW Horse Report running this story and it “being negative”, after having been upset over a past article published by NW Horse Report last year involving the groups involvement with a woman convicted of horse neglect.
Additional information concerning further details into the timeline of the testing and results with the horse in the late reported case was not immediately available, along with information on the attending veterinarian in that case.
The Oregon Horse Center has also cancelled it’s events scheduled for this weekend out of an abundance of caution.
Information about EHV-1
The EHV-1 virus is highly contagious and is spread via aerosolized secretions from infected coughing horses, by direct and indirect contact with nasal secretions, and fetal fluids. EHV-1 typically has an incubation period of 2-10 days. Respiratory shedding of the virus generally occurs for 7-10 days but may persist longer in infected horses.
Following basic biosecurity practices is an important factor in reducing risk of exposure to all contagious equine diseases.
Basic biosecurity measures to follow to decrease potential disease spread at equine events include:
- Limit horse-to-horse contact.
- Limit horse-to-human-to-horse contact.
- Avoid use of communal water sources.
- Avoid sharing of equipment unless thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
- Monitor your horse for clinical signs of disease and report any temperature over 102°F to a veterinarian.
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