7 horses in Washington euthanized after developing complications from EHV-1

By Erica Larson

Sixteen horses at one facility in King County, Washington, have now tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), seven of which have been euthanized.

On Dec. 15, the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) first reported that a 13-year-old Haflinger gelding had tested positive for EHV-1.

In a Dec. 26 update, the EDCC said subsequent testing had revealed additional EHV-1 positive horses.

“Thirty-seven of 60 horses (at the facility) have now been tested with 16 horses confirmed positive for the equine herpesvirus-1 neurotropic strain,” the EDCC said. “Seven horses have been euthanized due to equine herpesvirus myeloencepalopathy (EHM). Clinical signs of the EHM horses included 102-105°F fevers, hind-limb ataxia, no tail tone and dribbling urine. Treatment of horses include supportive care and anti-viral therapy.

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Researchers urge more studies of equine asthma

Horses could be a useful model for studying asthma in older people, according to researchers.

They cited similarities between aged-related asthma in humans and severe asthma in horses.

Michela Bullone and Jean-Pierre Lavoie, writing in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, said aging was associated with a dysregulation of the immune system, leading to a general pro-inflammatory state.

It is a process named inflamm-aging – aging related to a chronic state of inflammation.

Oxidative stress is known to have an important role in aging and in regulating immune responses, probably playing a role in the development of age-related diseases.

The function of the respiratory system declines with age, with asthma tending to be worse in older asthmatics than in younger patients.

Bullone and Jean-Pierre Lavoie, in their review, traversed age-related changes affecting the immune system, respiratory structure and function that could contribute to asthma occurrence in the elderly.

They suggested that naturally occurring equine asthma could be a valuable model for studying the importance of oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural age advancement.

Severe equine asthma, also known as heaves, recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), or summer-pasture associated obstructive pulmonary disease (SPAOPD) is a spontaneously occurring disease of horses and is already a recognized model for human asthma, the pair said.

In its severe form, horses experience episodes of labored breathing at rest triggered by hay dust antigens. With no infection, it is reversible with bronchodilators.

The occurrence of severe equine asthma is determined by the interplay of genetics and environmental factors, they said, appearing clinically only in adult and geriatric horses.

“Whether its subclinical development starts early/earlier in the horse’s life has still to be established.

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TAHC Releases Jim Wells County Fever Tick Quarantine Area

AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (USDA-CFTEP) released the Jim Wells County Fever Tick Control Purpose Quarantine Area (CPQA) on November 22, 2017.

The 51,590-acre CPQA was
established by TAHC and USDA-
CFTEP in July 2015 after cattle fever ticks were discovered on two calves at a South Texas livestock market. The calves originated from a premises located in Jim Wells County. An epidemiological investigation and follow-up inspection of the premises found additional cattle and wildlife to be infested with fever ticks.

The release of the Jim Wells County CPQA comes after two years of systematic treatment and inspections. The release rescinds all movement restrictions, inspections, and treatment requirements for livestock and wildlife in the area.

“Though the fever tick outbreak is gaining ground along the Texas-Mexico border, TAHC is pleased to see the successful eradication of cattle fever ticks in Jim Wells County,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director. “This is a small but significant step forward in our fever tick eradication efforts.”

Today, portions of 10 South Texas counties have established fever tick quarantines outside of the permanent quarantine area totaling approximately 708,335 acres. The counties include, Cameron, Live Oak, Hidalgo, Kinney, Kleberg, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.

To learn more about cattle fever ticks and the current outbreak, visit http://www.tahc.texas.gov/animal_health/cattle/.

Study of equine bacterium might lead to vaccine for strep throat

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News)—The fight against germs that cause millions of sore throats each year may have gotten a boost from horses.

Working in partnership, scientists from the Animal Health Trust, a veterinary and scientific research charity in the United Kingdom, and those from the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas identified new genes that help explain how the bacteria survive in people.

Infections caused by the bacteria—Streptococcus pyogenes—have surged in the past two decades, according to the researchers. They say the bug is the culprit behind 600 million sore throats caused by inflammation each year, with infection often leading to invasive disease. It’s responsible for 100 million cases of scarlet fever, acute rheumatic fever and the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis, the researchers said.

Still, they added, little has been known about the 1,800 genes in the bacteria that enable it to infect people’s throats.

Normally, researchers must painstakingly investigate one gene at a time. However, the veterinary scientists in Britain discovered a way to simultaneously test all the genes of a close relative of Streptococcus pyogenes that affects horses. It’s called Streptococcus equi.

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Testing keeps equine infectious anemia at bay


Between many required vaccinations and routine checkups, horse owners have likely heard of the Coggins Test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), but may not be aware of what exactly this test entails.

EIA is a disease brought on by a virus which is often transmitted by horse flies and horses who test positive for it are required to be separated from all other horses for the rest of their lives. Approximately two decades ago, Texas regulations to prevent this disease were tightened and have led to the near eradication of EIA, however there are still cases every year.

There are multiple places at Texas A&M which offer testing for disease, including the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) and departments within the Large Animal Hospital.



The disease can have critical effects on horses and is spread by some insects, according to Guy Sheppard, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Diagnostician at the TVMDL.

“It causes anemia and or a depletion or destruction of red blood cells in horses that are clinically infected,” Sheppard said. “It is mainly transmitted by the transmission of the organism in blood cells. The main vector are blood sucking insects, and the insect that can hold the most blood is the horse fly. They can transmit the most blood so the horse fly is the main vector involved in the transition of EIA.”

Symptoms can last from seven to 30 days after contact with the virus but a horse can still test negative for EIA up to 42 days because their immune system has not produced detectable antibodies, according to Michelle Coleman, assistant professor in the department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

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Equine Intra-Articular Osteoarthritis Treatment Options

  • By World Equine Veterinary Association

Epidemiologic data collected from more than 100,000 horses revealed that articular lesions are the most frequent reason owners seek veterinary care for their animals (Pennell et al., 2005). Among equine joint diseases with the greatest impact and clinical relevance in orthopedics, osteoarthritis (OA) remains the most devastating. The condition is often associated with poor performance, early retirement, and a significant financial burden for owners of affected animals.

In humans, OA is classically defined as an age-related joint disease that is one of the main causes of pain and dysfunction in elderly individuals. However, in horses, the condition also affects young animals, indicating that age is not an essential factor for OA development in equids.

Equine OA is a painful and debilitating disease that can develop rapidly (when secondary to trauma) or slowly (months to years), depending on the etiology (cause). It is common in all types of horses; however, it tends to affect joints with a larger and smaller range of movement in sport horses and leisure horses, respectively.

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Atypical rolling, kicking might signal colic in horses

  • By University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

In horses, colic is an ambiguous, potentially dangerous, diagnosis.

“Colic is a description for abdominal pain,” says Annette McCoy, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an equine surgeon at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in Urbana. “We use it assuming that the origin of the pain is intestinal, but technically the signs can indicate pain anywhere in the abdomen.”

Three Types of Colic


True intestinal colic can be divided into three types: gas colic, obstructive lesions, and functional obstructions:

  • Gas colic is the simplest and most common type. Just as in other animals, excess gas production in horses can cause mild to moderate discomfort. Luckily this problem can be resolved medically fairly easily, and it carries a positive prognosis.
  • Obstructive lesions are a bit more complicated. In these cases, something blocks the passage of digestive material through the gastrointestinal tract. Non-strangulating obstructive lesions, such as impaction (digestive material itself physically blocking passage), can often be managed medically. However, strangulating obstructive lesions—when an actual twist in the intestine prevents the movement of digestive contents—are surgical emergencies. The faster they are dealt with, the better the prognosis for the horse.
  • Functional obstructions mean there isn’t anything actually in the way of the digestive contents, but something is causing the gut to not move as it should, so food is just sitting there.“Enteritis, which is inflammation of the intestine, is characterized as a functional obstruction,” McCoy says. “This situation can be managed medically, but if the pain is too severe the horse may need to be taken to surgery.”

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