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UConn horses quarantined

by Karen A. Grava - January 16, 2007

The University, working with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, has quarantined its 80-horse herd due to an outbreak of equine herpes virus infection.

Equine herpes virus (EHV) infection, or equine rhinopneumonitis, is passed from horse to horse through respiratory discharges, says Mary Jane Lis, state veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture.

People cannot contract EHV, although they may inadvertently help spread the disease from horse to horse by contact or contaminated equipment.

Last week, 10 UConn horses had been diagnosed with EHV.

The quarantine has been imposed to stop the spread of EHV among UConn horses and from UConn horses to horses outside the herd.

It will remain in place for approximately three weeks after the last case of EHV has occurred, and after nasal swabs indicate that affected horses are no longer contagious.

Veterinarians hope the quarantine may be ended by early March.

In the meantime, the stables are being sanitized regularly and coursework directly involving the horses, polo practices and games, and other activities will be temporarily suspended.

A sale of rescued horses by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture scheduled to take place at the UConn polo arena on Jan. 20 has also been postponed.

The sale will be rescheduled once the UConn herd is released from quarantine.

Equine rhinopneumonitis is a fairly common horse disease, says Sandra Bushmich, an associate professor of pathobiology and veterinary science.

The disease usually causes respiratory infections in young horses, and usually resolves itself.

Less frequently, the virus may cause neurological disease or pregnant mares to abort.

Outbreaks of the EHV have occurred recently in at least 10 states, including California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida.

There is no public health risk associated with the disease.  

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