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Outbreak Of Fatal Horse Virus Spreads To California

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(credit: AP)

(credit: AP)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) — At least 10 horses in California have tested positive for a deadly horse virus in an outbreak that has hit several Western states and Canada that has spread since a horse competition earlier this month in Utah.

 So far, horses in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington and Canada have been infected with the highly contagious Equine Herpes Virus-1. The disease poses no threat to people, but it is easily spread among horses, alpacas and llamas because it can be airborne and transmitted by touch or by sharing feed, brushes, bits and other equipment.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture says 10 horses in Kern, Placer, Stanislaus, Amador and Napa counties have confirmed cases of Equine Herpes.  One horse in Kern County had to be euthanized after showing severe neurologic signs.

   The infected horses were among roughly 500 that attended the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier this month. Now officials in several states, including California, are quarantining infected animals and asking owners of other horses that attended the competition to monitor the animals for symptoms.

   Colorado, which has two confirmed cases of the virus, is now requiring permits for any horses being brought into the state. One of the horses was so ill it had to be euthanized, officials said.

   The outbreak also has prompted Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital to ban all non-emergency appointments for horses as a precaution, and the university’s Equine Sciences Center has cancelled two riding clinics and temporarily restricted horses from entering or leaving the campus.

   Washington state veterinarian Leonard Eldridge said a horse that was treated at the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman tested positive for the virus. Testing is being done on several other horses in the state that also attended the Utah event.

   Oregon has no reported cases of the virus but is keeping an eye on 18 horses that attended the competition in Utah, said Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman Bruce Pokarney.

   Montana officials are asking the owners of about 35 horses that attended the event to watch for any signs of the disease as well.

   Nebraska’s state veterinarian has placed five horse farms under quarantine because they had horses that attended the championships.

   Infected animals usually get sick between two and 14 days after they are exposed to the virus. Symptoms include fever, sneezing, staggering and partial paralysis.

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