Concern about the spread of a potentially deadly form of the equine herpes virus has eased in Washington state several weeks after quarantines were imposed and horse events were cancelled to stop an outbreak.
The Washington state veterinarian said last week that eight horses in the state tested positive for the disease. None of them died, although one was put down for an unrelated health condition, according to a news release from the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Four of the exposed horses had attended a horse show in Ogden, Utah, where they were exposed to the virus that then spread across the western U.S.
In Washington, horse owners and horse care facilities took steps to stem the spread of the virus. Some shows and events were cancelled.
Equestrian entries in the Spokane Lilac Parade were reduced as a result of voluntary quarantines.
The state veterinarian, Dr. Leonard Eldridge, said that horses with the virus or exposed to the virus should remain in isolation for 28 days after symptoms subside. The quarantine period can be shortened by a week if lab tests confirm that the horse is no longer contagious.
“The prompt actions of horse owners across the state limited the transmission of disease,” Eldridge said.
Symptoms can involve fever, sneezing and slobbering. Serious infections are rare, but can lead to staggering, hind-end paralysis and even death of the horse, the department said.
The department is recommending that horse temperatures be taken at events to check for fever.
The disease must be reported to the state veterinary office at (360) 902-1878.