Our hearts go out to all affected by the recent outbreak of the neurological form of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in Europe that has cancelled major events and highlighted a downside of our increasingly mobile global equine population.
The neurologic form of EHV-1 can cause a condition known as equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), which attacks the spinal cord and brain and can be fatal.
The virus is spread by direct horse-to-horse contact, by contaminated hands, equipment and tack, and, for a short time, through aerosolization of the virus within the environment of the stall and stable. Infected horses that show no clinical signs, which often includes older horses, act as carriers and can shed the virus.
Although currently available vaccines for EHV-1 do not prevent the neurologic form of the disease, they may reduce viral shedding.