Thursday, November 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Fear of equine virus cancels California events

By
May 21, 2011 |

By Stacy Finz

The nation’s $39 billion-a-year equine industry has been racked with a deadly virus that has killed at least seven horses — one in Bakersfield — and sickened another 37 in eight states, including 14 in California.

State and federal officials continued Friday to try to pinpoint the original source of a mutated form of equine herpes virus-1, known as equine herpes myeloencephalopathy.

The neurological illness leads to interference with the blood supply, causing tissue damage and a subsequent loss in normal brain and spinal cord function. Other symptoms include high fever, lethargy, weakness and lack of coordination.

In the meantime, equestrian associations and stables across the country have canceled shows, exhibitions and competitions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. California’s equestrian community is also postponing horse events until it’s safe to resume. There are 698,000 horses in California, a business valued at $4.1 billion, according to the American Horse Council.

“We first became aware of the disease in the 1970s,” said Dr. Kent Fowler, an equine veterinarian and the animal health branch chief for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “In the last decade we’ve seen an increase in these types of varied strains.”

There is no specific cure for EHM. But veterinarians at UC Davis, which is housing two of California’s infected horses in a maximum-security barn, said they are treating them like they would humans, with a version of the popular herpes drug valcyclovir, commonly known as Valtrex.

The other 12 horses also have been placed under quarantine by the CDFA, which is closely monitoring the animals. As many as 200 horses that may have been exposed to the contagious virus are also being watched for early stages of the bug, including nasal discharge, hind-end weakness and urine dribbling.

EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans, but people can spread it to horses after touching an infected animal and its equipment and feed, Fowler said.

So far, authorities have traced the virus to the National Cutting Horse Association’s Western National Championships competition in Odgen, Utah.

The annual event, where riders and horses are judged on their ability to separate a calf from the herd and are awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, was held from April 30 to May 8. The virus has a two- to 10-day incubation period, Fowler said.

“There are still parts of the puzzle we don’t know,” he said. “Federal epidemiologists are following the trail.”

What investigators do know is that 54 American quarter horses from California attended the Utah show and 15 came back sick, Fowler said. Five of the 15 showed neurological signs of the virus and nine have high temperatures, he said. The Bakersfield horse had to be euthanized after it fell to the ground and couldn’t get up.

Some of the animals that returned from Utah attended another show in Kern County, where 200 horses were in attendance, said Dr. Gary Magdesian, an associate professor of equine medicine and an infection control officer at UCD. It’s unknown how many of those animals may have been exposed to the germ.

Owners and handlers are being told to keep tabs on their horses’ temperature. For any horse with a temperature 102 F or higher, a veterinarian should be notified.

The last big outbreak was in 2006, when six horses died in Florida.

“It pops up every year in this country,” Magdesian said. “It’s one of the worst diseases a horse can get.”

— Reach Stacy Finz at sfinz@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    UC committee approves tuition hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    What’s in Village Harvest’s new name? Local control

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    ‘Dolphin Way’ author to speak at Davis Parent University

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Jumpstart Davis hopes to spark Davis’ startup scene

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

    Analyst: No ‘fiscal cliff’ when tax hikes end

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    First of three storms douses California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Cost of Thanksgiving is going up, but not by much

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bera prevails in close congressional race

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    NAMI support group meets Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Taize services offered at DCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Per Capita Davis: News from the funny papers

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A3

    Staying clean could harm your health

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A3

     
    Racial justice resources available at open house Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pre-Thanksgiving Farmers Market open on Nov. 26

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Realtors seek canned food donations Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    #EggFreezing trends for women in tech

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A3

     
    Breakfast with Santa tickets available now

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Join DHS Madrigals for annual evening of food and music

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    End a hike with qigong practice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    STEAC jeans drive on Dec. 10

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Fraternity launches ‘Green the Greeks’ program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Museum displays family heirlooms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    San Diego advances plan to recycle wastewater

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Performers sought to liven up holiday markets

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    For the vets

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Forum

    David Brooks: Obama in winter

    By David Brooks | From Page: A6

     
    Caregivers overlook a valuable ally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    We urge a ‘no’ vote on BDS

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Senior kitty needs a home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Offensive line, Turay provide impressive UCD convoy

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil pool teams make one more splash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Young DHS harriers have a big day at section championships

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Youth roundup: Diamonds shine at Level 4 state meet

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

     
    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A7

    DHS teacher puts his facial hair on the line in annual fundraiser

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Backyard apples? It can be done

    By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Name Droppers: Governor taps UC Davis grad for bench

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Robotics team takes second in Madera competition

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Arts

    ‘Cat Ballou’ closes Western film series

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Here’s a little more about water conservation

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    DMTC plans tile-painting fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Nancy Shepard

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    As usual, three’s a crowd

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, November 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6