June 20, 2011: Update on EHV-1 Conference Call

An update on the EHV-1 situation in Alberta and Western Canada was obtained this morning via a conference call with Veterinarians from Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Participants of the conference call included the Chief Provincial Veterinarian, members of Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, faculty from the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine, Provincial Animal Laboratory veterinarians and local Equine practitioners.

There has been NO new cases of nEHV-1 reported since the last telephone conference call on June 13, 2011.

No new cases have been reported by the British Columbia veterinarian in attendance on the conference call. nEHV-1 cases are not required to be reported to the provincial government in these provinces therefore we have limited information on cases.

From the initial work done on EHV-1 cases in Alberta by the Government Epidemiologist, Dr. Otto, this virus has followed a classical distribution for a single source occurrence. This speaks to the fact that no ‘second wave’ of infections have developed. It is the opinion of the authors below, the risk of spread to horses outside the cutting horse population is extremely low and close to the normal level of risk encountered for horses attending large equine gatherings. It has come to the attention of government veterinarians that a number of boarding locations have not been registered with a Premise Identification Number. This is required for all premises with any kind of livestock, even if privately owned. It is through this type of system that an epidemiologist can do proper, expedient tracking of diseases. We urge all horse owners to visit http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/trace12354 and become registered.

Releasing horses from quarantine:

There are a few remaining horses and boarding locations considered under quarantine as enough time has not passed for complete comfort. These are under veterinary consultation and cooperating fully. At this time, they do not pose a significant risk to the cutting horse population if proper quarantine and protocols presently in place are followed.

To address concerns for the upcoming cutting horse competitions, the group has created a list of recommendations for organizers of cutting horse competitions. There are also recommendations being developed out of California which mirror our efforts. Any group interested in discussing these options please contact your veterinarian or the authors below.

Biosecurity is a key component to limiting spread of any infectious disease and all individuals in contact with horses should remain mindful of appropriate procedures.

There is no follow-up conference call scheduled at this time. This speaks well for the level of comfort this group of veterinarians have; this situation is coming to its natural end. If any further issues arise, a conference call can and will be easily called at short notice.

As always, we will continue to update our information as it becomes available.

Greg Andrews, DVM
Moore Equine Veterinary Centre Ltd.

Ashley Whitehead, DVM, Bsc, DVSc
University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine