The Colorado Department of Agriculture has released the quarantine placed on a Douglas County premises after a case of equine herpes virus was confirmed at the location.
"We are pleased with the release of the quarantine," says State Veterinarian Keith Roehr. "The Department responded quickly to control this disease. The fact that there was only one confirmed case shows that the cooperative efforts of the premises and Colorado's vigilant horse owners are a vital part of disease mitigation."
The affected horse was imported by a private owner from Iowa, through a transport company and was euthanized after showing signs of severe neurological disorders associated with the disease. Three facilities received horses from the same transport vehicle. Horses at those facilities remain free of clinical signs of EHV-1, says Roehr.
Common vaccines available for EHV-1 immunization do not protect against the neurological form of the malady, says Roehr. The neurological form of the disease is called equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, or EHM.
Immunizations do protect against the respiratory form of the disease, however, as well as forms which may cause abortions in horses.
"While there was limited spread of the disease, it could have been much worse," says Roehr. "We encourage horse owners and event managers to always observe basic biosecurity practices such as limiting horse-to-horse contact, separating feeding, watering and tack supplies, and eliminating shared water sources at events to minimize transmission of all infectious diseases."
EHV-1 is not a human disease, but is considered a serious horse disorder that can lead to death of the animal. The most common way the disease is spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact, says Roehr. The virus can also spread through the air, however, and contaminate tack, equipment, clothing and hands.
Vaccines are thought to reduce the shedding of the virus and may decrease the amount of circulating virus in the system of infected horses. Vaccines prior to exposure may help reduce severity of infection, says Roehr.