Oregon State University vet services may be reopened for regular horse malady treatment beginning tomorrow, but OSU officials say the closure may last longer as the facility struggles to handle an equine influenza outbreak.
Only horse emergencies are have been accepted by the facility which issued the closure notice last Tuesday. The influenza outbreak at the OSU vet hospital involves three horses which were isolated and treated.
The virus is a highly contagious respiratory disease in horses that usually may not be fatal, but is of high concern to foals and pregnant mares.
Only equines are affected among animals under care at the facility, OSU announces.
Officials say this is an outbreak of equine influenza and not the more serious herpes virus 1, which is often confused for the less threatening disorder.
Humans are not threatened by the malady, OSU assures, and other animal species are also immune from the equine strain. However, the disease has been known to spread rapidly among horses and other equine species. Most animals fully recover, the university emphasizes, but older animals can be more of a concern since they are considered to be more at risk.
"Equine influenza is endemic in the U.S.," and we just happened to catch these cases," says Keith Poulsen, an internal medicine specialist with the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. "We've acted quickly so that hopefully no other animals will get infected."
The Large Animal Internal Medicine and Surgery Services program at OSU is working with the state veterinarian's office to alert veterinarians and horse owners of the problem.
The first sign of equine influenza is fever, coughing, nasal discharging and lethargy. Horse with fever of greater than 102.5 degrees should be checked by veterinarians, the school recommends.
Those with concerns can call (541) 737-2858 or go online.