"The recent confirmed outbreak of Paralytic EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus type 1) in a single training yard in the West Country has to date been very well contained despite rumours to the contrary. We commend the trainer and his veterinary team for their prompt diagnosis, their responsible reporting as required under the Rules of Racing and for implementing bio-containment procedures that have limited any further spread of this outbreak. With unsubstantiated rumours of a wider outbreak however it is helpful to offer some information and advice on the subject.
EHV-1 is a common virus that occurs in horse populations worldwide. Not all EHV-1 infected horses demonstrate clinical signs, but where they do occur they include fever (temperature raised above the normal range of 36.5-38.0'C), nasal discharge, coughing and perhaps fluid accumulation ('filling') of the limbs. These signs are commonly referred to as the respiratory form of EHV. It is primarily a disease of young stock although older horses can succumb to it, but are more likely to shed the virus, transmitting the disease without showing signs of infection themselves. On rare occasions the virus will attack nerve tissue within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is not fully understood why EHV-1 virus suddenly changes in that way. Horses affected by paralytic EHV-1 often display in-coordination of the hind, and occasionally fore limbs, urine retention, and in severe cases recumbency (lying down and unable to stand). These signs may or may not be preceded by the initial respiratory signs.
The disease is most commonly transmitted between horses via aerosol droplets produced by coughing, direct horse to horse contact and less likely by contamination of inanimate objects (e.g. clothing/feed or water buckets etc.) by infected secretions from the horse. To safeguard the horse population within a training establishment we recommend the Bio-security measures outlined in the NTF Code of Practice for Infectious Diseases of Racehorses in Training, found either in the booklet already sent to all NTF members or on line at www.racehorsetrainers.org (click on Publications; click on Code of Practice).
We stress that to date no further outbreaks on other premises have been reported to the BHA as required by the Rules of Racing, or to the Animal Health Trust from racing or other sections of the equine community. Whilst it is prudent for trainers to remain vigilant, with a focus on the bio-security of their own premises, with no further outbreaks reported it is unlikely that there will be further spread of this particular outbreak. Whilst increased awareness may possibly lead to better reporting from across the wider equine sector of the sporadic cases of EHV that sadly regularly occur, at this time there is no reason for racing or other equestrian activities to be cancelled as a result of this contained outbreak of EHV-1.
We do urge all the wider equine community to remain alert but not to spread unsubstantiated rumours that can cause alarm. They should contact their veterinary surgeons if they are concerned and also report cases, now and in the future, to the Animal Health Trust."
Issued on behalf of BHA, NTF, ROA with advice from the AHT at 10.00hr on 23/11/12 - Primary Contact National Trainers Federation 01488 71719 www.racehorsetrainers.org
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