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North Dakota confirms horse with EHM

Since October, horses in multiple states have been reported with neurologic form of equine herpesvirus-1.

The North Dakota State Board of Animal Health and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division reminded horse owners to protect their horses from equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) after a horse in Bottineau County, N.D., was confirmed positive for equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), the neurologic manifestation of the virus.

Since October, several outbreaks of EHM have been reported in multiple states, including Oklahoma, Virginia, Pennsylvania and California, the announcement said.

EHV-1 can be spread through the air and on contaminated equipment, clothing and hands. Biosecurity measures that can reduce the risk of spreading the disease include avoiding shared food or water containers and preventing nose-to-nose contact.

Out-of-state horses and other equines entering North Dakota for any length of time must be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection. “Certificates of veterinary inspection help us better monitor the movement of equines into North Dakota and help determine potential sources of diseases,” North Dakota state veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller said.

EHV-1 can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal death and sometimes EHM, the neurologic form of the disease. Vaccinations against EHV-1 have been shown to reduce viral shedding and curb the spread of disease and may decrease the severity of infection. While no vaccine can completely prevent EHM, vaccinating healthy animals and giving booster vaccinations before travel, competition or boarding is recommended, Keller said.

“Horse owners should discuss vaccination strategies and other preventative measures with their veterinarians,” North Dakota agriculture commissioner Doug Goehring added.

Although highly infectious and contagious among horses, EHV-1 poses no threat to human health.

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