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Viral Disease Detected in Minnesota Horse-Boarding Barns
Minnesota Ag Connection - 01/23/2023

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed two cases of Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) in separate boarding facilities in Washington and Dakota counties. This virus is usually spread by horse-to-horse contact. During the cold winter months many horses are boarded together indoors and it can be a high-risk time for disease transmission. (image is a stock BAH photo)

EHM is reportable to the Board because it is highly contagious. Horses displaying clinical signs with temperatures of 102°F or higher are required to be tested for EHV-1. The virus is shed from infected horses via the respiratory tract and is capable of surviving in organic material like manure and feed. Horses may appear healthy yet still spread the virus.

Winter is a prime time to stay on top of barn biosecurity. Diseases can impact horses any time of year. It's important to keep biosecurity at the forefront of barn care to prevent spread of infection.

- Stalls should be cleaned regularly, and waste stored in an area away from horses. Do not reuse cleaning equipment like shovels or wheelbarrows for other purposes like scooping and transporting feed.

- Prevent horse-to-horse contact between stalls.

- Clean and disinfect stalls between horses.

- Wash your hands between handling horses. Hand sanitizer may be used if water is unavailable, however, you need to remove all organic debris from hands for the sanitizer to be effective.

- Feed equipment like water buckets and feed tubs should not be shared between horses.

- Clean and disinfect shared equipment like bits, grooming supplies, thermometers, etc. between each horse.

- Launder and dry cloth items like blankets, towels, saddle cloth, etc. between each use.

- Ointments and topical medications should be assigned to a specific horse and not shared. If using a large supply, divide amounts into allotments for specific horses. Don't double dip.

- Restrict vehicles and foot traffic. Do not allow visitors to walk through the stalls. If it is necessary, make sure they have barn specific footwear or disposable boot covers.

- Keep rodents out. Properly store feed and use rodent control.

Vaccines are available for EHV-1. However, these vaccines are not labeled for prevention of the neurological form of the virus (EHM).


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