Confirmed Case of Equine Herpesvirus in Altoona Has Been Contained

As a precaution, State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand ordered quarantine of remaining horses on site

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 27, 2019) – The Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received positive test results of a case of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) 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 cause herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease affecting horses that can cause damage to blood vessels in the 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 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 signs of other symptoms, 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, owners should call their veterinarian immediately.

To prevent EHV horse owners should practice the following good husbandry and biosecurity practices at all times. If you own or interact with horses:

  • Make sure you work with a veterinarian to have a good health program for your horse(s).
  • Practice good biosecurity while at and after attending events where multiple horses gather. This includes: 
    • Not sharing equipment with other horse owners. This includes avoiding shared water and feed buckets/troughs between other horse(s) and your horse(s).
    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer between handling other horse(s) and your horse(s). 
    • When returning home, isolating your horse(s) that were at the event from your horse(s) that did not attend. This will help keep the rest of your horses from being exposed to any potential diseases brought back from the event.
  • For additional guidance speak with your veterinarian.

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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 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 iowaagriculture.gov.

Contact: Keely Coppess                               
515-281-3375 or 515-326-1616 (cell)            
Keely.Coppess@iowaagriculture.gov