A horse stable in Warren County has had several confirmed cases of what’s called EHM. “EHM is the acronym for Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, which is just a term for the necrologic or brain and spinal cord form of Equine Herpesvirus,” according the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association executive director Randy Wheeler.
Doctor Wheeler says the disease has been found in other states and so far there’s just one outbreak here. He says the operation is under quarantine after losing four horses. “There are several others sick, but they are recovering with veterinary treatment and owner care,” Wheeler says.
Wheeler says horses usually spread the disease when they touch noses. “But it can be spread through human transmission, such as contaminated clothes, on your hands, your boots, shared water buckets, feed, on our tack, grooming and of course, horse trailer debris,” Wheeler says. “It is a virus, it usually takes seven to ten days to cause symptoms. But not all horses will come down with the disease.”
Wheeler says there is a common thread among the animals that are infected. He says there was a horse show at the fairgrounds in late April, but so far just this operation has been the only one infected. “So, if we don’t hear of more and we take good biosecurity measures, we should mitigate the spread,” Wheeler says. He says horse owners monitor their animals by taking their temperature and looking for unusual behavior. Usually the horses may cough or be off-balance, have nasal discharge, be lethargic. Wheeler says if you notice these signs in your horse, contact your veterinarian.
Wheeler says there is no vaccine for this form of the virus, but there are vaccines for other forms.