Owners warned after outbreak of fatal horse virus

BOISE, Idaho — Animal officials nationwide are watching to see if a deadly horse virus outbreak at a Utah cutting competition spreads beyond a handful of Western states and Canada.

So far, at least nine horses in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington and Canada have been infected with the highly contagious Equine Herpes Virus-1. The disease poses no threat to people, but it is easily spread among horses, alpacas and llamas because it can be airborne and transmitted by touch or by sharing feed, brushes, bits and other equipment.

The infected horses were among roughly 500 that attended the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier this month. Now officials in several states are quarantining infected animals and asking owners of other horses that attended the competition to monitor the animals for symptoms.

Colorado, which has two confirmed cases of the virus, is now requiring permits for any horses being brought into the state. One of the horses was so ill it had to be euthanized, officials said.

The outbreak also has prompted Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital to ban all non-emergency appointments for horses as a precaution, and the university’s Equine Sciences Center has cancelled two riding clinics and temporarily restricted horses from entering or leaving the campus.



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