2014 Midwest Horse Fair EHV-1 Precautions
April 3, 2014
Update: Midwest Horse Fair to Continue as Planned
Midwest Horse Fair’s management recently met with the Animal Health Division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Federal Agriculture officials and Official Event Veterinarians from Irongate Equine Clinic to review the current situation regarding the Equine Herpes Virus. Our main focus is to continue to ensure the health and safety of horses that will appear at the Alliant Energy Center, April 11-13.
The EHV-1 Situation: What We Know to Date
As of April 3, two possible cases in western Wisconsin have been reported to the State Veterinarian’s office. In one case, test results on a horse in Polk County did come back positive for EHV-1. That horse is recovering. Test results from another horse in Burnett County came back negative, that horse was euthanized.
Six horses in Minnesota have tested positive for EHV-1. Two of the horses that tested positive are on the same premises in Chisago County. One of these horses has made a full recovery; the other was euthanized. There is one confirmed case of EHV-1 in Dakota County. This horse has been euthanized. Three other horses that have tested positive for EHV-1 are located in Freeborn, Hennepin and Wright counties. All of these horses are recovering. Test results are pending for a second horse in Wright County.
All horse owners should visit the UC Davis Center for Equine Health website for a very complete review of EHV-1. This website also contains background information on the disease.
Additional Measures Being Taken
In preparation for horses arriving at the Midwest Horse Fair, the following is being done and planned to help ensure the health and safety of all horses:
- Barns currently housing another equine event at the Alliant Energy Center will be disinfected prior to the arrival of the horses for Midwest Horse Fair next week.
- Upon arrival, all horse owners will be required to fill out a “Horse Health Questionnaire”.
- Thermometers and temperature cards will be given out during check-in.
- Horses will be visually inspected by onsite veterinarians multiple times per day and monitored for any indications of illness.
- Hand sanitizer with an educational sheet will be distributed to those attending the Fair.
- Posters and signs will be placed around the Fair to remind participants and guests to limit their physical contact with the horses to help protect the health of all horses attending the Fair.
- Officials from the Federal Department of Agriculture and State of Wisconsin, Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division will be onsite starting Thursday.
- An informational meeting for participants will be held Thursday at 9 p.m. in Hutchison HW Brand Arena to answer questions and give tips on taking temperature and monitoring your horse’s health.
Assistance from Horse Owners
For the safety of your horse, the safety of other horses, and the future success and continuation of Midwest Horse Fair, we ask that horse owners take these simple steps prior to and during the fair:
- Take and post a record of your horse’s temperature, since a transient fever is the most consistent symptom with this virus prior to the development of neurologic symptoms.
- Talk with your veterinarian and discuss your horse’s health. If your horse is not healthy, please keep your horse at home.
- Clean your tack, equipment and supplies before leaving home.
- Don’t share water buckets, tack, equipment and supplies.
- Minimize horse-to-horse contact while at the Fair.
- Use of plexiglass or plywood on stalls is permitted.
“Recognizing the level of caring and passion we have for our horses, exhibitors and clinicians need to take a primary role in monitoring the health of individual horses to ensure the safest, most enjoyable fair experience. Please recognize the current EHV-1 situation is not significantly different than what is normally present in the equine community and care should be taken not only at Midwest Horse Fair, but at any equine event you participate in,” states Rhonda Reese, General Manager, Midwest Horse Fair.
UPDATE: March 29, 2014 from The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
Equine Herpesvirus-1 in W. Wisconsin
We have now received word that pending test results for a horse in Polk County, Wisconsin have come back positive for EHV-1 (non-neuropathogenic strain). That horse is recovering. Test results for another horse in Burnett County, Wisconsin are still pending but that horse has already been euthanized as previously reported. These are the only cases that have been reported to the State Veterinarian’s office so far.
Note: Test results that are confirmed to be positive for EHV must be reported to the Division of Animal Health at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection within 10 days.
The Wisconsin state veterinarian recommends that horses with a fever and symptoms of contagious respiratory infection should be kept at home and not taken to shows, competitions, clinics or public trail rides. Horse owners should also be aware that transportation of horses to competitions, shows and clinics may increase the risk of exposure to infectious organisms. Although humans can’t be infected by EHV-1, they can aid in spreading it to their horses. Therefore, owners of affected horses should wash and disinfect their hands and change their clothes before coming into contact with healthy horses to prevent the potential spread of these infectious organisms.
March 27, 2014
Midwest Horse Fair to continue as planned, with organizers monitoring EHV-1 developments closely
In light of the recent concern about Equine Herpes Virus, Midwest Horse Fair’s management is closely monitoring the situation and has been in contact with the Animal Health Division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (which is headed by the State Veterinarian), along with the Official Event Veterinarians from Irongate Equine Clinic, to ensure the health and safety of horses that will appear at the Alliant Energy Center, April 11-13.
The EHV-1 situation: What we know
As of March 26, the State of Wisconsin has confirmed that four horses in Minnesota have tested positive for a non-neuropathic strain of equine herpes virus-1 (EHV-1). Diagnostic tests are pending on three additional horses, one in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin horses are located in Burnett County and Polk County. (Note: Test results that are confirmed to be positive for EHV must be reported to Division of Animal Health in Wisconsin within 10 days.)
To put those numbers in perspective: Minnesota is home to over 155,000 horses and Wisconsin is home to over 185,000 horses, according to the American Horse Council.
The current EHV-1 concern began in early March. With the measures implemented by the horse owners, barns and veterinarians affected, and the known incubation periods for this condition, the issue should be well identified and contained prior to the Midwest Horse Fair. While a “new” case may be presented in the professional and social media, they may not actually be “new” or change the veterinary communities’ understanding and recommendations regarding the situation.
The following EHV-1 information is from the Center for Equine Health in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis:
“The incubation period of EHV-1 infection is HIGHLY VARIABLE, depending on the host, on the
virulence of the virus, and on environmental and other factors such as stress. The AVERAGE
incubation period is 4 to 7 days, with the majority of cases being 3 to 8 days, but with some
taking up to 14 days. When neurological disease occurs, it is typically 8 to 12 days after the
primary infection involving fever. In most cases, horses exposed to EHV-1 will develop a fever
and possibly nasal discharge and then go on to recover.”
All horse owners should visit the UC Davis Center for Equine Health website for a very complete review of EHV-1. This site has not been updated with statistics for the current Minnesota EHV-1 outbreak, because the dynamic nature of such a situation makes it difficult to maintain real-time data on active infections; however, it contains very good background information on the disease.
How it affects MHF attendees
The Midwest Horse Fair’s Veterinary staff will be on premises 24 hours a day during the event, from Thursday prior to check-in until the majority of horses have left the fair. Representatives from the Federal Department of Agriculture, as well as the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division, will be on-site. Horses will be visually inspected multiple times per day and monitored for any indications of illness.
“All of our clinicians and entertainers are bringing their horses as planned,” states Rhonda Reese, General Manager of the Midwest Horse Fair. “We will be paying close attention to the situation over the next two weeks. If the situation changes, we will re-assess and adjust accordingly.”
Midwest Horse Fair organizers recognize this situation is dynamic and are closely monitoring it as it develops. Recommendations and information available today may not be current tomorrow and “new” cases reported today may not be new or unidentified but may only have positive test results being reported.
How horse owners can monitor their animals’ health
Based on current knowledge of EHV-1 infections, exhibitors and clinicians are encouraged to begin taking temperatures on their horses prior to bringing them to the Midwest Horse Fair, since a fever is the most consistent symptom noted in this condition. The fever is transient and the horses can appear asymptomatic between primary infection with a fever and developing neurologic symptoms so individual monitoring and examination starting at the event is of limited value.
“Recognizing the level of caring and passion we have for our horses, exhibitors and clinicians need to take a primary role in monitoring the health of individual horses to ensure the safest, most enjoyable event. Please recognize the current EHV-1 situation is not significantly different than what is normally present in the equine community and care should be taken not only at Midwest Horse Fair, but at any equine event you participate in,” states Reese.
If a concern develops prior to Midwest Horse Fair, contact your Veterinarian to discuss your horse’s health. Midwest Horse Fair further encourages exhibitors and clinicians to continue to take temperatures on their animals while at the Fair and contact our staff directly if any concerns develop.
Furthermore we would encourage participants to make sure their horses have been vaccinated prior to participation at the Fair. Recognize there is no vaccine available to prevent neurologic symptoms but the hope exists that by vaccinating, the level of viral shedding would be decreased if an outbreak were to occur. Speak with your veterinarian for timing of this vaccine prior to the event but vaccination immediately prior to the Fair is of limited value.
“Even if we were mandated by the State that no horses were to be permitted to the Midwest Horse Fair,” says Reese, “the event would proudly continue. The Midwest Horse Fair brings a wonderful variety of speakers, educational topics, breeding information, state-of-the art equipment, trailers and vendors – it will always happen!”