Horse virus corrals the riding circuit

Horse in sling.
Horses have fallen ill with a strain of equine herpes virus, or EHV-1, that can cause respiratory and neurological damage. EHV-1 can sometimes become a neurological infection, called equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, which destroys blood vessels and leads to damage of the brain and spinal cord. Horses with the neurological form may have to lean against a wall for balance or be unable to stand up.

Rodeos, Competitions and Exhibitions Canceled in Western States as Officials Struggle to Contain the Spread of Infection

Cross-posted by the Wall Street Journal


DENVER—Veterinarians and horse owners across the West are struggling to contain a highly contagious and potentially deadly equine virus that has so far infected at least 34 horses in nine states, from Texas to Washington.

The outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus-1 has forced authorities to cancel or postpone many riding competitions, rodeos, fairground exhibitions and horse auctions in several Western states and Canada.

“This outbreak is much more widespread than most, or perhaps any, previous outbreak,” said Keith Roehr, the Colorado state veterinarian.

At least seven horses infected with the disease have been euthanized.

Equine Herpes Virus-1 has been around for decades and is quite common; a number of vaccines effectively control symptoms. But in the past several years, veterinarians in many states have reported outbreaks of a mutant form of the virus. The vaccine does not protect against this form of the virus. It’s this mutant form that appears to be afflicting horses who attended the cutting-horse competition in Ogden, said Dr. Bruce King, Utah’s state veterinarian.

The mutant form is treated with antiviral medications, but there’s no sure-fire cure. Read full WSJ report >>

The EquidBlog (Information and Insight on Equine Infectious Diseases), who are tracking the outbreak, reports:

The Veterinary Infection Control Society (VICS) has been monitoring recent developments associated with the equine herpevirus type 1 (EHV-1) outbreak that originated in horses from the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championship in Ogden, Utah (April 29-May 8). Reports of neurological disease (equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM)) have been received from across a wide region of the western US and in a relatively large number of horses, along with reports of milder disease (e.g. fever). Read more at EquidBlog >>

The USDA are also tracking and reporting US case numbers with the help of the AAEP. Read more at >>

2 thoughts on “Horse virus corrals the riding circuit”

  1. It’s simple economics, wild horses have a virus outbreak who gives dam, let a dumb race horse who’ll becrippled by age 3 and the systems looses it’s betting racket so the gamblers and owners loose. Moral is a horses sick is a horse, why should money matter.


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