The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is reporting an outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) at a boarding facility in Marion County.
The first confirmed case of a horse with neurological signs was reported by a private veterinary practitioner earlier this week. The horse subsequently tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), neurotrophic strain.
The affected index horse continues to be treated in a separate isolation facility. A second horse stalled immediately adjacent to the index horse while at the farm has also been confirmed positive as of March 4th. This second horse is not exhibiting neurologic symptoms, although it has been febrile and is being treated at the separate isolation facility.
67 other horses have been exposed.
The Division of Animal Industry placed the premises under quarantine and immediately began a disease investigation. The index horse was housed at the World Equestrian Center Barn D during week 7 and the second horse was housed in Barn D during week 8. The second horse left the World Equestrian Center on February 25th, 2021. The investigation continues and additional information will be provided as available.
Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy is a disease is caused by the EHV-1 virus. EHV-1 is spread from horse to horse through contact with nasal discharge or spread as aerosol droplets. Horses can also contract the virus by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces such as stalls, water, feed, tack, and transport vehicles. Humans can spread the virus from horse to horse by contaminated hands and clothing.
There is no cure for EHM. Currently, there is no USDA licensed EHV-1 vaccine which is proven to protect against the neurological disease associated with EHV-1.