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University horses released from quarantine, recovering well

by Karen A. Grava - March 12, 2007

No new clinical cases of equine herpes virus (EHV) infection have occurred at the University in more than a month, and Connecticut state veterinarian Mary Jane Lis has released the quarantine of the 80-horse herd.

Follow-up testing of all exposed horses, including all horses housed in the affected barns, is negative – indicating that the animals are no longer contagious, Lis says.

“The strict biosecurity practices and quarantine initiated at the onset of the outbreak prevented the spread of infection to the rest of the UConn herd and to horses outside the UConn herd,” says Daniel Fletcher, professor and head of the animal science department.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this situation.”

The University’s 80-horse herd was quarantined in early January to prevent the spread of the disease beyond the herd.

Twenty-three horses within the herd have shown clinical signs of equine herpes infection.

Five of them exhibited neurological signs of the disease.

Two of those have mild residual effects of the disease but none became recumbent (unable to stand), and none died or were euthanized. All the other affected horses have fully recovered.

Classes and other activities directly involving horses were curtailed or modified during the quarantine, and the Department of Animal Science is now deciding what activities will be resumed this semester, says Sandra Bushmich, associate professor of pathobiology and veterinary science.

EHV, also known as equine rhinopneumonitis, is a common horse disease. It causes respiratory infections in young horses, and usually resolves itself.

Less frequently, the virus may cause more serious neurological disease or abortion.

The virus is passed from horse to horse through respiratory discharges.

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

There is no public health risk associated with this equine disease.

EHV and other horse health issues will be discussed at the New England Conference on Equine Health and Management at UConn on Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The conference is open to the public. More information is available at http://www.canr.uconn.edu/ansci/equine/cehm/htm

More information about EHV and UConn’s horses can be found at http://www.canr.uconn.edu/ansci

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