Knowing the signs of a notorious disease

By Connie Orcutt • Published: January 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

The words ‘equine herpesvirus infection’ are enough to make the hardiest horse owners speed their steeds in the opposite direction.

The most feared form of this infection is equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, or EHM, which causes progressively worsening neurologic problems. The first sign is a fever, which is followed by weakness, stumbling and dribbling urine. Eventually, affected horses may lose the ability to stand. A limp tail or head tilt are other signs to contact a veterinarian right away and keep the horse isolated.

Equine herpesvirus spreads via respiratory secretions or contaminated materials. There is no vaccine for the EHM form of the infection, but the virus is easily killed by most disinfectants. The key to combatting the spread of EHM is to quarantine affected horses. That requires knowing the signs of this notorious disease.