ALTOONA, Iowa – The Department of Agriculture of Iowa has confirmed a highly contagious virus in a horse stable in Altoona.
The equine herpesvirus or EHV-1 can be fatal to horses and easily assert themselves from horse to horse, humans and even lifeless objects. It does not pose a threat to humans or other animals, but it can be fatal to horses.
State veterinarians now issue a quarantine to prevent an outbreak.
"That's why we're implementing a quarantine," said the state veterinarian. Jeff Kaisand said. [The facility] also monitors all horses for other clinical signs twice a day. We would take the next steps if a horse shows clinical signs. We would test this horse and see if this horse could be affected as well.
The horse was mounted in the Pine Hollow Stables in Altoona. The state veterinarian says that since Monday afternoon, no other horses in the barn are infected, but the quarantine is still necessary until they are sure that the virus does not spread.
The horse's owner, Heather Otis, says the infected horse, Rowdy, went from very good to nearly dead within hours. She sent Channel 13 a video of Rowdy who could not get up. In the end he had to be euthanized.
"It has never been transported all year round, so it was not as if it had gone anywhere and made contact," Otis said. "I do not want to point my finger because I do not have a finger that I can really point to, but that does not bring it back."
Dr. Kaisand says it is important for all horse owners and the Altoona stable to take precautions and use biosecurity to prevent an outbreak.
"It could come in different ways," Dr. Kaisand. "It could come from another horse or it has been in the horse for a long time, but to be on the safe side, we are careful and do not spread it to other horses. Therefore, we quarantine the facility, monitor horses when they have been abandoned, and can show clinical signs and release other horses.
There is a horse fair hosted by the Iowa Horse Council for this weekend in the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We talked to President David Beary, who says the event is still going on after meeting Dr. Kaisan and other veterinarians and has confirmed that there is currently no increased risk. A horse was asked not to attend the event because it was determined that it might have had contact with the infected horse.
Beary says it's standard practice for her to have a vet in the stables, and that will not change this weekend. As always, all horses that come to the fair have to submit health papers.