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Keywords:

  • Equine herpesvirus type 1-associated myelopathy;
  • Equine herpesvirus type 1 gG ELISA;
  • Herpesvirus;
  • Horse;
  • Nasal shedding;
  • Polymerase chain reaction

Background: Because of the serious disease sequelae associated with equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) infections, awareness and control measures used to control outbreaks are important issues for all horse populations.

Objectives: Describe the occurrence and management of an outbreak of EHV-1 infection at a veterinary hospital.

Animals: Horses hospitalized at a referral veterinary hospital.

Methods: A horse with myeloencephalopathy associated with EHV-1 infection (EHM) was admitted for diagnostic evaluation and treatment under strict infection control procedures. We describe the occurrence and management of a nosocomial outbreak of EHV-1 infections associated with admission of this patient.

Results: Despite institution of rigorous biosecurity precautions at the time of admission of the index case, EHV-1 infections spread to 6 other horses that were hospitalized at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hopsital, including 2 that served as sources of infection for horses on their home premises after discharge. Infection with EHV-1 was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and by seroconversion documented by glycoprotein G ELISA. A voluntary quarantine was imposed and admissions were restricted to prevent additional horses from being exposed. Quarantine duration was abbreviated by serial testing of all horses with PCR.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: These findings illustrate the contagious disease risk that can accompany management of horses with EHM. Horses with active nasal EHV-1 shedding should be isolated in an airspace that is separate from other horses by strictly enforced biosecurity and isolation procedures. Serial testing with PCR may be a useful adjunct to determine when the risk of transmission has been minimized.