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Press Releases

February 10, 2023
Fairfax County Horse Test Positive For Equine Herpesvirus-1
Contact: Michael Wallace

On February 9, the State Veterinarian’s Office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) received results that a horse tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the virus that causes Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy. One horse at a private boarding stable in Fairfax County showed neurologic signs, tested positive and was euthanized on February 9th due to a poor prognosis. The other 30 horses on the farm have no clinical signs. The boarding stable has been placed under quarantine.  All horses on the farm are being monitored twice daily for fever (temperature over 101.50 F) and other clinical signs. All owners with potentially exposed horses have been contacted. No additional Virginia horses have been exposed. A full investigation revealed that none of the current cases of EHM in Virginia are related. It is not uncommon to see multiple independent cases in the wintertime.

There is no cause for alarm concerning the general horse population in Virginia. EHV-1 is a virus that is present in the environment and found in most horses all over the world. Horses typically are exposed to the virus at a young age with no serious side effects. A large percent of horses carry the virus with no clinical signs for the remainder of their lives. Rarely, exposed horses develop the neurologic form of the disease. Horse owners with concerns should contact their veterinarian.

The Equine Disease Communications Center Biosecurity web pages equinediseasecc.org/biosecurity have more information on best practices for disease prevention in horses and VDACS has more information on EHV-1 at vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-equine-herpes-virus.shtml. Horse owners also may contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.

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