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Equine disease surveillance: quarterly update

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Equine disease surveillance headlines

  • Outbreak of neurological equine herpesvirus in the UK

  • Summary of UK disease surveillance for October to December 2019

  • Focus on equine infectious disease surveillance initiatives in the UK

Neurological equine herpesvirus outbreak

On 7 January 2020, the Animal Health Trust (AHT) confirmed a case of equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) neurological disease on a premises in Hampshire. The disease report was released through the International Collating Centre (ICC).

The affected horse was an unvaccinated thoroughbred cross mare that presented with pyrexia, lethargy, inappetence, lymphadenopathy, limb oedema and ataxia. The horse was subsequently euthanased after becoming recumbent.

The decision-making process for confirming or ruling out cases of EHV-1 neurological disease is illustrated in Box 1 on p 238.

Box 1:

Decision making for confirming a case of EHV-1 neurological disease

  • * The CF test is a serological test, measuring antibody titre. Following exposure, it can take up to two weeks for a rise in titre to be detected by the CF test, so most cases will require a second sample, taken two weeks after the first. CF test results must be interpreted in light of the horse’s EHV vaccination history, as vaccination will stimulate CF antibody if administered in the preceding few months

  • † Ensure sample is run alongside the acute serological sample (results can only be properly compared if paired bloods are run on the same test on the same day)

  • Additional testing may include analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (EHV-1 PCR and viral isolation) and postmortem examination (gross analysis, histology, EHV-1 PCR and immunofluorescence).

In the present case, the positive diagnosis was confirmed by PCR on a nasopharyngeal swab. Nasopharyngeal swabs taken from three mildly clinically affected (but non-neurological) contacts also tested positive for EHV-1 by PCR.

The affected premises closed voluntarily and disease control measures were implemented under veterinary supervision.

The affected area of the premises, …

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