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For Immediate Release

March 21, 2013
Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock

Equine Herpes Virus Found in Flathead Horse

A horse in Flathead County has been diagnosed with the neurological form Equine herpesvirus (EHV1) after developing clinical signs of the disease.

Based upon the travel history of the animal and the incubation period of the disease, the horse was likely exposed at an event in Ravalli County earlier this month. The Department of Livestock is currently working with event organizers to inform event participants of the potential risk.

Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) is naturally occurring in equine populations and may cause respiratory disease, abortion in mares, neonatal foal death, and/or neurologic disease. There are two types of the virus responsible for outbreaks in the U.S. - the neuropathogenic form, and the wild type. The horse in question appears to be infected with the less virulent strain, which is not as likely to cause neurological or severe clinical symptoms.

According to assistant state veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, the affected horse developed weakness, which progressed into recumbency (inability to rise or stand), two weeks after attending the event. The infection was confirmed by blood and nasal swab samples.

"At this time, this incident of EHV-1 is limited in scope, but there remains a possibility for additional cases," Szymanski said.

An encouraging sign, she added, is that the index horse seems to be improving.

The event was put on by a local club. The club is well organized, Szymanski said, and has been working effectively with MDOL to manage the incident.

Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your horse may be affected with EHV-1, or with any specific questions about your horse. You may also address questions to Dr. Tahnee Szymanski (; 406/444-2043).

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