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Officials warn of horse herpes outbreak, say it could possibly spread to Utah

Posted at 2:24 PM, Apr 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-13 16:24:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) issued a caution to horse owners, concerning herpes viruses that are affecting animals and causing rodeo cancellations across the country.

Dr. Barry Pittman, a Utah State Veterinarian at the UDAF said that though there were no confirmed cases of equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) in Utah, horse owners, particularly who participate in rodeos, should remain aware of the risks.

“Considering the cases in surrounding states, the nature of the virus, and the co-mingling and stress levels of horses in event circuits, we are certainly susceptible to future cases,” Pittman said.

The Equine Disease Communication Center has reported that in March, three horse premises were affected by EHV-1, and 7 premises were affected by EHM.

So far, there have been sporadic reports of these diseases in April, as well in Nevada, Idaho, California, Wyoming, Texas and Canada, the UDAF said in a press release.

Pittman said that organizers of events in Utah that involve horses should take more biosecurity measures, and postpone or cancel some events if the horse herpes risk is high.

“Continued situational awareness concerning cases and quarantines in surrounding states, events epidemiologically linked to horses that may have been exposed, and diligence in monitoring individuals’ horses’ health will all help control the spread,” Dr. Pittman said.

For more information on the virus, click here.