Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) is an incredibly infectious virus and is much more common than many horse owners believe. There are several forms of the disease, however the most serious are EHV 1, 3 and 4.
Type 3 is a sexually transmitted disease which is rare in the UK.
Types 1 and 4 are common and cause respiratory disease, neurological signs and abortion in pregnant mares. The respiratory form circulates continually in the equine population and your horse may become infected and show very few, if any, signs and then become a carrier. Occasionally a much more serious respiratory form is noted where horses have very high temperatures, glandular swelling and a clear nasal discharge.
They generally feel very unwell and will stop eating.
Treatment includes supportive care and occasionally anti-viral drugs.
Rarely a neurological form is seen where horses become wobbly on their back legs, have difficulty urinating and eventually may be unable to stand. Some horses may not recover from this form of the disease.
Mares may abort up to 12 weeks after exposure to EHV type 1 (which may be from a carrier or a horse not showing signs of illness) The abortion is usually sudden and generally in mid to late pregnancy.
A vaccine is available for this disease (EHV types 1 and 4) which should be used alongside good disease prevention measures. It reduces the spread of the disease and gives protection against respiratory disease caused by EHV, it also reduces the chance of abortion occurring due to EHV Infection.
Vaccination involves two initial doses 4-6weeks apart followed by 6 monthly boosters.
Pregnant mares are vaccinated at 5, 7 and 9 months of pregnancy. We strongly recommend vaccination of all pregnant mares and horses which are competing or mixing with other horses regularly.