BISMARCK — North Dakota's first case of equine herpes of the season has been confirmed in McKenzie County.
The North Dakota State Board of Animal Health and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's Health Division announced the news earlier this week, saying the horse tested positive for equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), the neurological manifestation of the virus. The animal has been isolated and is receiving veterinary care at home.
In the past few months, the equine herpes virus has been confirmed in 11 states and two Canadian provinces. Two horses were euthanized in North Dakota in 2018 after contracting the virus.
The virus poses no threat to humans, but is highly contagious among horses and spreads quickly, especially during the summer months, when many horses travel to regional events.
“Care should be taken when co-mingling horses to minimize the chances of contracting the disease,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a press release.
To slow the spread of the disease, out-of-state horses and other equines entering North Dakota must be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection.
Equine herpes can be spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands. It can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal death and sometimes the neurological form of the disease, EHM.
Horse owners can reduce the risk of spreading the disease by avoiding shared food or water containers and preventing nose-to-nose contact between horses. They are encouraged to vaccinate their horses against equine herpes, which has been shown to reduce the spread of disease and may decrease its severity.