Equine Virus Spreads Throughout Southern California

An equine virus has begun to spread in southern California among horses. Known as EHV-1 or the Equine Herpes Virus, this infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion in mares, neonatal foal death, and neurological disease. Though it has not yet entered Ventura County, horse owners should be aware that the virus is present in neighboring counties such as Los Angeles County, Orange County, Santa Clara County, Riverside County, Riverside County, and San Mateo County.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), humans are not at risk of contracting the virus, however, humans can act as an indirect mode of transmission.  EHV-1 is easily spread and typically has an incubation period between 2-10 days with a 7-10 day period of respiratory shedding of the virus. The CDFA recommends a 21 day isolation period with stringent biosecurity protocols if a confirmed positive EHV-1 case occurs.

There is also a neurological form of the disease is known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM). This strain may be caused by damage to blood vessels of the brain and spinal cord associated with EHV-1 infection. To decrease the potential spread of EHV-1 or EHM, the CDFA recommends limiting horse-to-horse contact, limiting horse-to-human-to-horse contact, avoiding the use of communal water sources and equipment, and monitoring your horses for signs of the disease including a temperature over 102 degrees (F).

For more information and updates on this virus, please visit the CDFA website.

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