Cache County facing horse herpes cases

Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-27 19:33:39-05

LOGAN, Utah - Cache County is facing a possible outbreak of the highly contagious equine herpes virus. Two horses have already been put down after becoming infected with the neurological disease.

Veterinarian Roger Rees with the South Valley Large Animal Clinic says he's seen a lot of different cases, but in his 40 years, he's never treated a case of equine herpes virus.

"This is something that has been rather rare in our experience in equine practice," Rees said.

But Rees says it's something vets have become very aware of in the last few years.

"Happened in Ogden two summers ago because so many horses were exposed around the West. It was a huge disaster," he said.

To make sure there isn't another major horse herpes outbreak, the Utah Dept. of Agriculture says it's isolated the problem in Cache County is and is tracking it to make sure no other horses are affected.

"The advice we are giving horse owners is to be careful if you are bringing your horses to a gathering or event. If you are going to go, take the temperature three days before you go to the event," said Larry Lewis with the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food.

A fever is usually the first sign of trouble, but extreme symptoms can cause horses to become uncoordinated and lay down.

The infection is often transmitted via nose-to-nose contact, but can also be picked up when horses share a feed bin, tack or tethering poles.

"I think a lot of these problems could be solved if the horse owners took responsibility and had a vet check their horses that aren't feeling well," said horse owner Steward Sprouse.

Horse experts don't think there's any reason to panic yet, but they suggest taking precautions by not letting horses have contact with unknown animals.