Equine herpes virus seems to be abating

The equine herpes outbreak that spread to states across the West last month has quieted down considerably of late, and authorities are responding to that fact in Colorado.

The Montrose County Fairgrounds, which had restrictions on horses moving in out of the fairgrounds for the past couple weeks, is lifting those restrictions as of today. The opening coincides with the Colorado West Barrel Racing event scheduled for tonight.

In Mesa County, officials still were discussing Thursday the possibility of lifting the ban on horses coming into the fairgrounds, which was imposed in mid-May shortly after the EHV-1 outbreak became public. The only horse event scheduled for the fairgrounds this weekend — a dressage show — was cancelled several weeks ago.

However, if the ban is lifted, it would allow a team-roping competition and a barrel-racing show to occur the following weekend.

In Loma on Saturday, Dr. Dan Love, the state veterinarian for western Colorado, will speak about the equine herpes virus at the Horsemen’s Health Fair taking place at the Western Slope Cattlemen’s Salebarn.    Love is scheduled to speak at 9:15 a.m., and he will be followed by a variety of equine experts talking about horse health and nutrition. The event is free to the public.

Colorado has not had any new confirmed cases of EHV-1 since May 20, the state Department of Agriculture reported. The state has nine confirmed cases and 22 suspected cases in eight different counties, including Mesa, Garfield and Gunnison counties on the Western Slope. Throughout the West, there have been 58 confirmed cases of the disease, according to The Horse.com, with one new case reported in California over the weekend.

It is believed all of the afflicted horses either participated in a cutting-horse competition in Ogden, Utah, at the beginning of May, or came in contact with horses that were at that show.

The equine herpes virus is extremely contagious and can be spread by direct contact among horses, by airborne germs from horses sneezing and coughing, and from secondary contact such as the sharing of feed and water buckets or tack. Horses suspected of having the disease must be quarantined for up to a month to ensure they are no longer contagious.


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