Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Confirms a Case of Equine Herpesvirus in Story County

DES MOINES, Iowa (July 19, 2021) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has confirmed a positive case of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) in a horse located in Story County, Iowa. The horse is showing neurological signs of EHV.

To prevent the virus from spreading, the positive horse, and the other horses that were potentially exposed at the facility, are quarantined for 21 days. The animal caretakers are monitoring the quarantined animals for clinical signs of EHV and taking their temperatures twice per day.

EHV can lead to herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease that can damage the blood vessels in a horse’s brain and spinal cord. EHV does not pose any threat to humans or other species of animals.

EHV is common in large horse populations and is spread through the respiratory tract and nasal secretions. Most horses have been exposed to EHV at some point in their lives and most show no serious signs of illness.

The Department encourages horse owners and caretakers to monitor their horses for clinical signs of EHV. If a horse develops a fever, loses coordination, leans against a wall or fence to maintain balance, has nasal discharge, decreased urine output, weakness in their hind legs, lethargy or the inability to stand, the owner should call their veterinarian immediately.

To prevent EHV, horse owners should follow these husbandry and biosecurity best practices:

  • Work with a veterinarian to develop a good health program for your horse(s).
  • Don’t share equipment with other horse owners.
  • Don’t share water and feed buckets/troughs between horse(s).
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling other horse(s) and again before touching your horse(s). 

After returning home from an event, isolate your horse(s) that attended from your horse(s) that did not attend. This will prevent the rest of your horses from being exposed to diseases that may have been contracted at a show.

If horse owners have questions or concerns about their animals’ health, they should contact their veterinarians.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov