Florida horse diagnosed with neurologic equine herpes myeloencephalopathy

The 18-year-old horse has developed incoordination, hind-end weakness and an inability to urinate.

A horse in Palm Beach County, Florida, has been diagnosed with equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), the neurologic manifestation of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), and is currently under quarantine.

Most cases of equine herpesvirus-1 infection cause only mild to moderate respiratory illness but occasionally some lead to life-threatening neurologic disease.

According to information provided to the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) by state agriculture officials in Florida, the horse is an 18-year-old Warmblood gelding. His signs include ataxia, hind-end weakness and an inability to urinate. All of these are common neurologic signs associated with EHV-1. 

EHV-1 most often causes cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness (rhinopneumonitis), but the infection occasionally leads to the life-threatening neurologic disease EHM. The mechanisms through which EHV-1 produces neurologic disease are not yet understood.

While the affected horse was vaccinated against EHV-1, according to the EDCC, there is no vaccine specifically protects against EHM, so biosecurity is a crucial part of prevention. EHV-1 spreads from horse to horse through nasal discharge or aerosol droplets. Humans can spread the virus via contaminated hands, clothing and equipment. 

To learn more about EHM and how you can protect your horse, click here

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