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Equine Herpesvirus Forces Quarantine At Douglas County Horse Stable

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A horse suffering from equine herpesvirus (credit: CBS)

A horse suffering from equine herpesvirus (credit: CBS)

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FRANKTOWN, Colo. (CBS4) – The first case of equine herpes has surfaced in Colorado. A horse boarded at a stable in Iowa was recently transferred to a stable in Franktown.

The virus infected the neurological system of the hose and it had to be euthanized. Now state veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr has placed that facility under quarantine for the next couple of weeks.

Two other horses riding in the same trailer went to two other stables in Colorado. Those two are under a hold order so they can be observed until veterinarians are certain they’re not also infected or contagious.

Roehr cautions that it is not an outbreak, but so far an isolated incident involving one horse. No others at the stable Iowa or in Colorado have showed signs of the virus. Some strains in some extreme cases can make horses so sick, they have to be euthanized.

Equine herpesvirus is spread when an infected horse comes in contact with another — often through nasal secretions. The virus can become airborne, putting horses in close range at risk. For a short time it can even live on clothing, tack, water tanks and feeders, which is why disinfecting those things can help prevent it from spreading.

“A week from today, if we’ve seen no new cases, then we can begin to feel that there is less of a chance of any further spread,” Roehr said. “If we get two weeks from today, then we can begin to relax any movement restrictions on those affecting facilities.”

Roehr says protecting horses is much like protecting a person from getting a flu that’s going around the workplace. There is no cure for equine herpesvirus, but medications can help drastically ease some of the symptoms if a horse is sick.

Roehr says this year’s herpes case is nothing like the actual outbreak in Colorado last year. Horses from multiple states caught the herpesvirus at a major competition in Utah. After returning, nearly two dozen Colorado horses had the virus and two had to be euthanized.

For more information, visit a special section of the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.

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