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Biosecurity Can Help Prevent Spread of EHV-1 Infections

The neurologic form of the equine herpesevirus-1 (EHV) called equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a potentially fatal disease of horses, can largely be avoided by instituting and maintaining standard biosecurity measures, which are readily available from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

A real-life example is a 6-year-old North Carolina mare that was confirmed EHV-1 positive last week. According to investigators, ideal biosecurity measures such as isolating all horses entering the premises--even those returning from shows--for three weeks, were not standard protocol on the mare's home farm. The proprietors of the property weren't alone in that respect--the majority of stables and equine facilities share similar practices, investigators said.

"The farm now has strict biosecurity measures in place," affirmed Tom Ray, DVM, MPH, director of Livestock Health Programs for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Some of the most important measures include separate food and water buckets, individual tack that is not shared, separation of horses returning to the facility from shows, sales, trail rides, and twice-a-day temperatures for five to seven days on any horses exhibiting any unusual signs."

At present, the source of the infection remains unclear and may never be determined.

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