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Disease outbreak guidelines

THERE has been an outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV 1) in Gloucestershire and the British Horse Society has put together some advice.

Currently two horses have been shown to have the neurological form of the disease and one the respiratory form. It appears that others are also showing signs but have yet to be definitively diagnosed.

Although not a legally notifiable condition, EHV 1 is contagious and does have the potential to be a serious disease. The neurological form can lead to paralysis. In most cases, EHV 1 is spread via respiratory transmission so wherever horses are brought together from different yards there is the possibility for the disease to spread if one of the horses present is affected.

It is important to be aware that the risk of your horse contracting EHV 1 is very small and there is certainly no need to panic. However, as with any disease, spotting it early is the best thing for your horse.

Although aimed at a different disease (strangles) the BHS produced a STEPS leaflet with lots of useful information about quarantining and isolating horses.

Many of the clinical signs of EHV 1 can be confused with other diseases. A high temperature is a key indicator and it is essential to monitor the temperature of 'at risk' horses. Affected horses will tend to be disinterested and off their food, as well as showing typical respiratory disease signs such as coughing and a nasal discharge. If a horse is affected by the neurological form of the disease you may see some incoordination or just general 'wobbliness'.

Should you have any concerns at all that your horse may be affected please contact your vet immediately.

The BHS is part of the group that produces the HBLB Codes of Practice. There is much helpful information about EHV in the Codes which you can access here.

If anyone has any further concerns about EHV or would like more information, please contact the BHS Welfare Team on 02476 840517 or email welfare@bhs.org.uk