RALEIGH - Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is asking horse owners in North Carolina to watch for symptoms of a highly contagious equine disease following the positive diagnosis of a horse in Virginia.
Animal health officials in Virginia and Maryland imposed quarantines Thursday on four horse farms in Virginia and eight in Maryland. Horses on these premises might have been exposed to equine herpes virus, known as EHV-1. The quarantine means that no horses can leave or enter those farms.
Dr. David Marshall, North Carolina's state veterinarian, said there are no known cases in North Carolina. There also have been no known movements of horses from the affected facilities into the state. Marshall advised all N.C. horse owners to increase their disease awareness and biosecurity measures as precautions.
The quarantines in Virginia and Maryland were enacted after a horse at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., tested positive for a strain of EHV-1. The hospital, which is owned by Virginia Tech, has also imposed a quarantine that could last up to 28 days.
Officials in Maryland and Virginia said horses at the quarantined farms might have come into contact with the virus while staying at the medical center.
EHV-1 primarily affects the respiratory system of horses, but can also cause severe neurological disease and death. Symptoms include fever, coughing, nasal discharge and loss of balance. The virus is transmitted through body fluids and does not affect humans. Horses suspected of being sick should be isolated and examined by a veterinarian immediately.
Concerned horse owners should contact their private veterinarian or call the Veterinary Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (919) 733-7601. Additional information is available on the department's Web site, http://www.ncagr.com, under the "Disease Alert" link.