Horse being treated for equine herpesvirus in Snohomish

SNOHOMISH — Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital is treating a horse that has equine herpesvirus 1.

The virus has proved deadly among some horses, said Snohomish veterinarian Dr. Wendy Mollat.

“This horse is quarantined, is being cared for in our equine isolation facility and has had no contact with the rest of the animals here. We are using our bio-security protocols and are in touch with the state vet,” Mollat said. “Nevertheless, there are lots of rumors swirling around out there, so we want to make sure that people know our hospital remains safe and open for business.”

The horse being treated at Pilchuck was shown at the National Cutting Horse Association event in Odgen, Utah, and developed a fever and neurologic signs after returning home to Eastern Washington, Mollat said.

“This virus is endemic among horse populations. It’s like herpes in humans. If you get stressed, you get a cold sore,” Mollat said. “But it has become more aggressive over the years. The concern about death among horses is a newer development.”

The horse she is treating is clinically stable and will remain hospitalized until it is confirmed that he is no longer shedding the virus, Mollat said.

“It is important to note that currently there is no evidence of EHV-1 disease spread outside the horses that participated in the Odgen event,” Mollat said.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends that people with concerns about exposure of a horse to the virus should contact a veterinarian immediately. In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs may include nasal discharge, incoordination, hind end weakness, recumbency, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone.

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