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Local stables taking extra precautions after case of equine herpes found in Waterloo region


A case of equine herpes detected in a horse in Waterloo region is raising concerns in the local equine community.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says it was notified about a case of the virus – which can be deadly – on a premise in Waterloo region on Jan. 5.

“My concern is if anybody’s been there,” said Amanda Clayfield, owner of Run 2 You Stables near Ayr. “All it take is the feed guy could deliver feed and walk-in.”

After hearing about the case, Run 2 You Stables, which houses 47 horses, is taking additional safety measure to ensure the health of their animals.

“We tend to put our barn on a quarantine just to keep others out so we've got a voluntary quarantine. We've asked all of our clients to not go anywhere else because it spread so fast."

The Ministry of Agriculture said it was notified of the case of equine herpes in a mare that was examined after the animal experience “incoordination” which rapidly deteriorated.

The ministry said that EHV-1 does not pose a threat to public health or food safety.

In an email to CTV News, a spokesperson for the ministry said “to date only one premises in the Region of Waterloo has been affected by equine herpes caused by infection with equine herpesvirus-1.”

The affected premises is now under veterinary supervision including biosecurity protocols.

The American Association of Equine PR actioners says this strain of virus can be fatal and can also cause neurological and respiratory problems.

Outbreaks in Ontario are rare, but the infection can be easily spread.

“We do have, you know, very good systems in place in Ontario to really identify when these types of cases come up and really isolate them as quickly and as effectively as possible," said Wendy Pearson, an associate professor of equine physiology at University of Guelph.

According to the provincial government, EHV-1 infection is easily spread to other horses by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infected horse, by sharing contaminated equipment, including bits, buckets and towels or by the clothing and hands of people who have recently had contact with an infected horse.

"It really highlights how incredibly important it is to practice good biosecurity on these farms not just when a case comes up, but in order to try to prevent these cases from cropping up in the first place," Pearson said.

While there is only one case confirmed at this time, there is concern within the local equine community, since horse shows and events continue through the winter. 

"So this time is a little stronger than the last time it was in the area,” said Clayfield. “As soon as the cases have dwindled, there's no new cases we usually wait two weeks and then we kind of get back to everything.”

The ministry says EHV-1 does not currently pose a threat to public health or food safety.

It is important to restrict movement for 21 days of both horses and people who have worked with them where EHV-1 has been diagnosed, according to the province.

“Any person moving between equine facilities should change their clothes, shoes/boots and wash their hands,” the provincial government said. “Facility owners should also inform all service providers that have attended the facility within the previous week, including, but not restricted to, veterinarians, farriers, feed suppliers and transporters, of the presence of the virus at the facility so they can take appropriate precautions.” Top Stories

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