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Horse from Coos Bay diagnosed with equine herpes virus now in isolation at Oregon State

“Horse owners should be aware that although EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans, people can spread the virus on their hands and clothing to horses, alpacas or llamas if they are in contact with an infected horse,” said Erica McKenzie, professor of large animal internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Veterinarians have diagnosed a horse from the Coos Bay area with a form of equine herpes virus, the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine said Wednesday.

Equine herpes virus is "a naturally occurring virus that can cause serious illness in horses," the college said in a statement. "The horse is being treated for the neurotropic form of the virus, which is a mutated type of EHV-1 with a higher likelihood of causing neurologic disease."

The horse "became acutely affected with weakness and staggering on Nov. 4" in the Coos Bay area, according to the college.

It is now in isolation at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine in Corvallis.

“Horse owners should be aware that although EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans, people can spread the virus on their hands and clothing to horses, alpacas or llamas if they are in contact with an infected horse,” said Erica McKenzie, professor of large animal internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

To help prevent the disease from spreading, the college has discontinued all elective surgical and medical services for horses, llamas and alpacas for the next two weeks.

Symptoms of infection with neurotropic EHV-1 include

  • Weakness in the hind limbs;
  • Uncoordinated, stumbling movements;
  • An unusual gait;
  • Weak tail tone;
  • Difficulty urinating, and dribbling of urine;
  • Inability of geldings and stallions to retract their penises;
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Fever (rectal temperature at or above 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit in resting horses).

"Horses with any of the signs listed above should be isolated from other animals, and owners should contact their veterinarians immediately," the college advised in a statement.

The virus can cause mares to abort pregnancies, according to Oregon State. "In rare cases, EHV-1 can cause blindness and central nervous system damage in alpacas and llamas," the college added.

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