Some Nebraska horses exposed to deadly virus

Farm Forum

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) – Two out-of-state horses that ran in a Lincoln barrel racing event last month later tested positive for equine herpes virus and had to be euthanized, and officials are cautioning Nebraska horse owners to keep a close eye out for signs of the incurable disease.

The state Agriculture Department said no cases of the incurable disease have been found in Nebraska, but horse owners should be careful, the North Platte Telegraph reported on May 3.

“I want to encourage horse owners to take precautions to help prevent this disease from affecting our horse population,” said Dr. Dennis Hughes, the state veterinarian.

The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact, and contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Symptoms include decreased coordination, fever, lethargy and the inability to rise.

The horses that tested positive for the disease after the April event, one from Kansas and the other from Wisconsin, were both euthanized.

Hughes said horse owners should be sure to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse. And it would be wise to disinfect boots and change clothes after coming in contact with someone else’s horses.

The state recommends that owners keep horses isolated for two to three weeks after they return from events with other horses.

At this point, Nebraska hasn’t imposed any import restrictions on horses, but owners should check with event organizers about any additional requirements for specific horse events.