College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Aiken County animal quarantined for monitoring of equine neurological disease


Clemson University animal health officials quarantined an Aiken County animal after it tested positive for a neurological disease associated with equine herpesvirus, or EHV-1.

The animal was quarantined February 13, after displaying clinical signs including lethargy. Testing by nasal swab confirmed the disease on February 22. The infected animal and its pasture mates will be monitored throughout the quarantine period.

“The infected animal is no longer showing clinical signs with resolution of fever and was likely beyond the infectious stage of the disease by the time we were alerted. Also, the owner of the infected animal is being cooperative, following biosecurity recommendations, and the facility is well-suited for quarantine. This is really a best-case scenario to keep this disease isolated,” said Michael Neault, S.C. State Veterinarian, and director of Clemson Livestock Poultry Health.

Animal disease investigators have established that the infected animal and its pasture mates have not come into contact with other equids.

EHV-1 is the primary cause of the neurological disease EHM, or equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy. No currently licensed vaccines are labeled for the prevention of EHM.

The disease can be fatal and is mostly spread by direct horse-to-horse contact. Horses may appear to be perfectly healthy yet spread the virus through nasal secretions. The disease can also be spread through tack, wipe rags and other grooming implements, feed and water buckets, and people’s clothing.

Symptoms include:

• Fever preceding neurologic signs

• Decreased coordination

• Urine dribbling

• Loss of tail tone

• Hind limb weakness

• Leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance

• Lethargy

• Inability to rise

If you suspect you have an animal with EHM, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

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