BREAKING NEWS At least one horse dead from highly contagious virus

EHV-1 has a bad reputation in Texas and throughout the US. When it struck recently in Utah, every horse was tracked down and quarantined until declared well, and that extreme effort stopped the spread of this highly contagious virus. Chances are that symptoms will never show after a horse has been exposed if they have received the vaccines, but even that is not 100% protection. The risk of exposure is great because the virus can live for a long time on different surfaces.

While none of the horses belonging to Habitat for Horses show symptoms, for the protection of our horses and those of others, we are closing both the Hitchcock and Manvel facility to the public. Access to the facilities will be extremely limited and all volunteers will be asked to stay home during this period.

This is a very dangerous time for our horses, especially in the weaken state of those that have newly arrived. We will do our best to protect and comfort them, and we ask for your prayers to keep them safe.

From: Galveston Daily News

ehv1_horses SANTA FE — Officials confirmed Thursday that at least one horse had died and dozens more had possibly been exposed to a rare and highly contagious virus in Galveston County.

Another four horses had been euthanized or died from the possible outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1, or EHV-1, in about the past week, veterinarian Michelle Milton-McDonald said. She estimated that 40 horses at two farms within one mile of each other have been exposed. The farms are near Alvin.

Although the virus is highly contagious among horses, it does not pose a threat to humans, according the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Milton-McDonald’s veterinary clinic, Santa Fe Equine Associates, will be quarantined for at least three weeks because they’re caring for a horse that showed symptoms of the virus.

Officials are testing to confirm the virus in five additional cases, she said.

A Texas Animal Health Commission spokeswoman said the agency is investigating the origin of the virus.

“We’re just trying to get to the bottom of it, doing all the tracing,” spokeswoman Bonnie Ramirez said.

The first sign of the virus is a fever, followed by nasal discharge and heavier-than-normal breathing. It can also affect a horse’s mobility and coordination because the virus damages the blood supply to neurons, often affecting the animals hind legs first. There is no cure for the virus.

“Basically when horses become ill, all we can offer is amino-stimulant drugs, but even those have not been scientifically proven to be of a lot of benefit,” Milton-McDonald said.

Because the virus is spread through the air and contact, experts say it is important for horseowners to practice safety measures that include disinfecting stalls and avoiding contact with unknown horses. Although humans aren’t affected by the illness, they can spread it between animals, Milton-McDonald said.

But she said that shouldn’t scare horse owners from calling a veterinarian if their animals appear to be sick or showing symptoms.

“I don’t want people to be afraid to have the vet out if the horse is sick. I want people to understand that if the proper precautions are take, humans are not going to spread it from horse to horse.”

Contact reporter Chacour Koop at or (409) 683-5241.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Posted by Habitat for Horses

    Habitat for Horses needs your help. We need latex gloves and shoe covers – all sizes and lots of them ASAP at our Hitchcock and Manvel locations. Call our office at 409-935-0277 DO NOT MESSAGE US THROUGH FACEBOOK – we may miss it! While none of the horses on our ranches have been diagnosed at this time with EHV-1 – all horses in this area of Texas are at risk due to how quickly EHV-1 spreads and how deadly it can be.

    February 6, 2015
  • MS

    I’m hoping and praying for all horses and their humans to be safe …. what a pity there isn’t a cure, there isn’t a pill out there to kill this virus … I’m quite surprised, I must admit …. Hang in there … all of you!

    February 7, 2015