Confirmed Case of Equine Herpesvirus in Altoona Has Been Contained

As a precaution, State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand quarantined the remaining horses on site

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 27, 2019) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has confirmed a positive case of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) in a horse at a barn in Altoona. To prevent the virus from spreading, other horses in the barn were quarantined for two weeks, with barn staff checking their temperatures twice daily. State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand is working with owners and staff to ensure proper procedures are followed to contain the virus.

EHV can lead to herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease that can cause damage to 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 symptoms of EHV. If a horse develops a fever or shows other clinical signs, such as loss of coordination, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, nasal discharge, decreased urine output, loss of tail tone, hind leg weakness, 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 at all times:

  • 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 the show.

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


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 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at

Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616