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What is the equine herpes virus EHV-1?

Equine herpes virus EHV-1 is a viral disease associated with respiratory issues, abortion in pregnant mares, and paralysis due to neurological problems. There are nine strains in total; EHV-1 to EHV-5 affect domesticated horses and EHV-6 to EHV-9 causes infections in wild equids, like zebra.

How does EHV-1 neurological affect horses?

The virus damages blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord, which leads to inflammation of the blood vessels and the formation of clots that obstruct the flow of blood through the circulatory system or haemorrhages into the nervous tissue. Ultimately, this results in tissue that is dead or dying because of a lack of blood supply, or a restriction in blood supply to regions of the brain and spinal cord, with resultant damage or dysfunction to tissues.

Signs of EHV-1 neurological

A lack of energy

Snotty nose

Wobbly hind limbs – poor co-ordination

Being unable to lift the tail

Slight head tilt

Unable to pass urine or droppings

How is equine herpesvirus EHV-1 spread?

EHV-1 is contagious and can be spread by direct horse-to-horse contact, contaminated objects like tack and water buckets, but is most often spread by an infected horse coughing or sneezing and healthy horses breathing in the virus.

Because of the contagiousness of equine herpes, the virus spreads most effectively in busy environments like auctions, show centres and large yards.

Why is it so serious?

Because the neurological form results in a high death rate, it is resistant to prevention by vaccination, and it affects horses of all breeds, ages and vaccination status.

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