Equine herpes epidemic in Europe

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By NewsDesk @ bactiman63

On March 1, 2021, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced that it would cancel international sporting events in ten continental European countries due to a EHV epidemic during an international tournament in Valencia, Spain.

Image / markusspiske

The return of the horses caused secondary outbreaks in nine countries.

As of March 16, a total of seventeen horses in Europe had to be euthanized due to the outbreak.

EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortions in mares, death of neonatal foals, and neurological disease. The neurologic form of the disease is known as equine herpetic myeloencephalopathy (EHM) and can be caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord associated with EHV-1 infection. EHM is most commonly caused by the neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1, but may occasionally be caused by the non-neuropathogenic strain of the virus.

EHV-1 spreads easily and usually has an incubation period of 2 to 10 days. Respiratory shedding of the virus usually occurs for 7-10 days, but may persist longer in infected horses. For this reason, an isolation period of twenty-one days of confirmed positive EHM cases is recommended with rigorous biosecurity protocols. Similar to herpes viruses in other species, the latent form of EHV-1 can reactivate at a later date, but usually with a low viral load with a low risk of infecting other horses. Humans are not at risk of contracting the virus, but humans can act as an indirect mode of transmission.





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