Hundreds attend information session on horse herpes virus

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CAVE CREEK, Ariz.--Hundreds of horse owners stood in the pouring rain Wednesday night for an information session about equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). So far one horse is confirmed dead from the virus, and at least three others are infected.

Dr. Brent Rollins, a veterinarian and a director at the Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center, said as of Wednesday night in addition to the one fatality, there were three reported cases, with another four suspected cases currently being tested.

"It's a threat we're taking very seriously," said Rollins.

At the public meeting, held outside the Medical Center, officials told horse owners the most common first signs of the virus are a fever and a mild listlessness in the horse. Rollins said other signs are bladder failure and shakiness.

EHV-1 is believed to have broken out during the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Odgen Utah, held from April 30 through May 8, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Acting State Veterinarian Dr. John Hunt recommends isolation for at least 28 days after any clinical signs of the disease are observed.

Officials say one of the best ways owners can protect their horses is to keep them at home.

"Limit the movement of horses while we're in this expansive stage of the disease," said Rollins.

EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses, but poses no threat to humans.