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2014 PRESS RELEASES

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April 14, 2014
NO NEW CASES OF EQUINE HERPESVIRUS MYELOENCEPHALOPATHY (EHM) IN VIRGINIA

~ State Veterinarian commends farm in Fauquier County for quick action that led to early detection and may have prevented spreading the disease ~
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), says that the VDACS Office of Veterinary Services has completed the initial investigation of the Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) case recently reported in Northern Virginia. VDACS field veterinarians have reported that horses from the farm did not have contact with other horses in the state.  “EHM is a highly contagious disease,” Wilkes said, “but we did not find any additional horses displaying fevers or clinical signs of the disease on the farm over the weekend. The disease can appear in horses that have not been exposed to horses showing disease signs, however, so we are still monitoring the situation carefully and advise horse owners to continue to practice strict biosecurity.”

On Friday, April 11, VDACS announced that a single horse in Northern Virginia had tested positive for EHM and was euthanized. The horses on that farm in The Plains in Fauquier County will remain under quarantine for 21 to 28 days from the last exposure to the virus, the incubation period for EHM. 

Wilkes commends farm management and their veterinarian at the Fauquier farm for their quick recognition of the clinical signs and for initiating the testing that led to the diagnosis of EHM. Although he still urges horse owners to prevent contact of healthy horses with any that may be exposed to EHM infected horses, he says the rapid detection of disease in the initially infected horse may have helped limit the scope of this disease event. “The farm management kept excellent records of movement on and off the farm that provided excellent information for VDACS staff to identify exposures of other horses,” he said.

Horses from the Fauquier farm did leave that farm and go to two other states. VDACS has notified the State Veterinarians in the affected states of the situation.

Wilkes advises horse owners to continue to practice strict biosecurity, especially when horses are commingled. He recommends placing horses in isolation when returning from events and monitoring their temperature upon return as important disease protection and early detection measures.

VDACS provides updates through the EHM section of its website and on Twitter and Facebook, both @VaAgriculture. A downloadable brochure about horse biosecurity is available on the USDA website.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on facebook.com/VaAgriculture.

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