The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ animal health officials and veterinarians from the Equine Hospital at Cornell University are investigating two confirmed cases of Equine Herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) in New York State. Both horses listed as cases of EHV-1 were inpatients of the Equine Hospital at Cornell University, and could have potentially exposed 69 other horses.
EHV-1 is a common viral infection of horses that is highly contagious and exhibits an array of symptoms, ranging from no clinical signs to neurological disorders.
New York State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith said, “While a common virus in horses, we are taking this situation very seriously given the large number of horses that have potentially been exposed to a highly communicable and sometimes fatal disease. To date, no other horses have showed signs, nor tested positive for the virus. However, this serves as an excellent reminder to horse owners that they should always be cautious of introducing new horses with an unknown disease status.
This incident involves two confirmed cases of EHV-1 in New York State. One was a one-day old foal that was admitted to the Equine Hospital on March 18. The foal died two days later of pneumonia, and tests revealed the presence of EHV-1 on March 25.
During the same time, a gelding was being treated at the hospital for a spinal injury. It was discharged on March 22, but became severely ill and showed neurological symptoms after arriving back at its home farm. This horse tested positive for EHV-1 on March 30. The gelding is now recovering.
In response to the two confirmed cases, both the gelding’s farm and the Equine Hospital were quarantined immediately, restricting movement and access to animals at both facilities. Horses at both facilities are being monitored closely and having their temperatures taken twice daily. So far, no animals have exhibited a fever attributable to EHV-1, which would be an early warning of the virus.
At the Hospital, PCR tests have also been completed for four consecutive days on all current patients. The PCR samples from all animals in the hospital are negative, indicating that no virus shedding is occurring.
As part of this on-going investigation, the Department of Agriculture and Markets is working to determine the source of the infection, as well as to identify and isolate potentially exposed horses. In doing so, Cornell has been contacting all referring veterinarians and the owners of 69 other equine patients that may have been exposed while at the Equine Hospital.
The Department is also communicating with private veterinarians to provide information related to this situation, and is prepared to follow up on possible quarantines of trace-out barns of the 69 potentially exposed horses, if necessary.
At this time, neither the Department nor Cornell know of any other animals that have showed signs or tested positive for EHV-1 in association with this incident.