Strike a Balance With EHV-1

Learn how to strike a balance between showing and protecting your herd against equine herpesvirus-1 myeloencephalopathy with tips from Dr. Tom Lenz.

In light of the current equine herpesvirus-1 myeloencephalopathy outbreak, many horse owners are having to make the difficult decision between continuing their passion and livelihood of showing horses or putting it on hold to stay at home for the welfare of their horses and the equine population.

According to Dr. Tom Lenz, past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and a regular columnist in The American Quarter Horse Journal, competitors can strike a balance between protecting their horses and continuing to travel the show circuit.

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“When traveling with our horses, (be) aware of the potential for exposure to infectious agents and taking daily steps to minimize that exposure,” Dr. Lenz says. “Good vaccination programs and biosecurity should be practiced on a continual basis and will prevent most outbreaks like we are experiencing now.”

If you decide to travel and compete in the next several weeks, Dr. Lenz suggests taking certain measures before you depart. These include:

    • Booster your horses with EHV-1, EHV-4 and EIV vaccines.
    • Before departing for a show, provide horses you think are at risk with an immunomodulator to stimulate their immune systems.

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    • Don’t share equipment, and limit your horse’s exposure to other horses and disease vectors like mosquitoes or flies. Although insects aren’t vectors for EHV-1, they can carry other communicable illnesses.
    • While traveling or at the show, avoid nose-to-nose contact with other horses and do not water your horses at communal water tanks.
    • Whether you’re at home, on the road or you’ve reached your final destination, particular attention should be given to cleaning and disinfecting stalls and equipment periodically to prevent exposure. Since manure and dirt can make bleach-based disinfectants ineffective, Dr. Lenz suggests the use of Nolvasan or Roccal-D.
    • Keep Coggins papers and health certificates up to date.
    • Work with your local veterinarian to develop a good vaccination and preventive medicine plan.
    • Most importantly, make biosecurity a habit at home and on the road.