Information on equine herpesvirus pferdesportverband westfalen e. V

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information on equine herpes virus pferdesportverband westfalen e. v

Information about the Equine Herpesvirus

This topic page was created when an outbreak of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) occurred during an international horse show in Valencia, Spain, in February/March 2021. Unfortunately, this was a particularly aggressive and highly contagious form, so that as a result tournaments, viewings, training courses and similar events were cancelled for several weeks to protect the horses.

Information and FAQs, which were compiled on the occasion of the acute situation, remain available in updated form on this page. This also includes the information on the now introduced vaccination obligation for horses participating in competition sport.

Frequently asked questions and answers about the equine herpes virus

Hygiene guide horse (FN)

Dealing with non-legally regulated infectious diseases

The information sheet of the FN contains detailed information

Notices to download, which can be useful in the event of a contagious infectious disease

Information about vaccination against the herpes virus

Information on compulsory vaccination for show horses

The compulsory vaccination of show horses will come into force on 1 January 2009.1.2023 in force.

FAQ about the Equine Herpesvirus

The collection of the following questions took place at the beginning of March 2021 in the immediate context of herpes infections in Valencia, Spain. They were posed by participants in an online seminar and answered by Dr. Heinrich-Georg Hassenburger answers. Dr. Hassenburger is a veterinarian and animal welfare liaison for the Commission for Horse Performance Tests in Westphalia (KLW).

Note on the following FAQ

The following questions were collected in early March 2021 in direct connection with herpes infections in Valencia, Spain. They were asked by participants in an online seminar and were answered by Dr. Heinrich-Georg Hassenburger answered. Dr. Hassenburger is a veterinarian and animal welfare representative of the Commission for Horse Performance Tests in Westphalia (KLW).

afterwards the questions were supplemented by few aspects. Since many answers have permanent information value, they remain as FAQ list.

Is there a quarantine requirement for equine facilities in the event of a herpes outbreak?

No. A quarantine obligation could only be ied by the relevant authorities. However, herpes is not a notifiable or reportable disease. Accordingly, an outbreak is not closely controlled by the state.

It is therefore in the hands of the responsible club directors and farm managers to take precautionary protective measures and establish appropriate rules should an outbreak occur.

What is the Equine Herpesvirus?

The herpes virus is widespread in the horse population. More than 80 percent of horses carry it latently. Therefore, there may always be outbreaks, especially in winter/spring. Consistent basic hygiene is therefore sensible and necessary at all times.

However, there are different manifestations of the virus, including the particularly aggressive one that caused the dreaded neurological symptoms in sick horses in Valencia in Feb 2021.

How the virus is transmitted?

Transmission is primarily in the form of droplet infection. Direct contacts of an infected and acutely contagious horse with other horses are therefore particularly risky. Horses in the close vicinity, for example on the same stable aisle, can also be infected.

Can the virus be transmitted by humans (hands, clothing, material)?

Yes. The virus can, for example, adhere to hands and materials and be transmitted through this route via people or objects.

How long can the virus z.B. "Survive" on clothing or objects ?

There is no precise, scientifically proven time window for this purpose. It can be amed as safe that there is (depending on z.B. the ambient temperatures and the amount of virus particle) are two to three hours.

Is there a risk of transmission when unfamiliar riders come to the yard?

This is possible if the person has previously been in an affected stable and had contact with an infectious horse. Consistent hygiene and protection against infection and responsible action by all persons are therefore indispensable.

Can the virus be transmitted by other animals?

Currently there is no scientific proof. The amption is, however, that a transmission by other animals (dogs, cats, rodents, etc.) is possible.) is not possible.

Can the virus be transmitted via horse feces/urine?

Yes. Not the feces itself, but adhering mucous membrane residues are capable, as well as the excreted urine of an infected horse.

What distances droplets can travel outdoors?

This question is especially aimed at neighboring horse farms whose pastures are adjacent to each other or only a short distance apart. Also persons, who for example pass foreign horse herds during rides, can ask themselves this question.

The distance that infectious droplets can travel, depending on the current wind situation, is approx. 10-30 meters.

What hygiene measures should apply to people traveling from farm to farm?

Persons who travel from farm to farm (e.g. mobile trainers, farriers or equine physiotherapists) should take special hygienic measures depending on their respective activities. This includes thorough hand hygiene (careful washing, disinfecting), disinfecting the tools/materials used, and ideally, changing clothes.

What are the first symptoms of an illness?

The most important symptom is an increased internal body temperature. If the horse looks tired, coughs or has nasal discharge, the internal body temperature should be measured.

Measure temperature!

Among the most important measures is the regular and consistent taking of fever.

From a value of 38.5 degrees Celsius one speaks of increased temperature, thereafter of fever. The veterinarian should be notified. The affected horse should be isolated if possible. The body temperature of the horses that have contact with the infected horse should also be monitored closely (two to five times a day).

As a precaution, appropriate fever monitoring is also advisable if infections have occurred in the immediate vicinity.

What further measures are to be taken in case of infection?

All important measures are described in detail in the hygiene guidelines of the German Equestrian Federation.

According to experience, how long does the infection last in an individual horse??

Overall, an infection lasts from infection through incubation, the clinical onset of symptoms, and the healing that then takes place ca. four weeks. However, these values are highly variable from one individual to another.

Over what period of time are the horses still contagious after the symptoms have subsided??

The horses are still contagious for at least 14 days.

Which testing options are available?

A herpes virus infection of the horse can be detected by laboratory diagnostics with a PCR test. For this purpose, the veterinarian takes an appropriate sample with a swab and a blood sample. The results are available after 2-6 days. Further examinations are then necessary (e.g. B. Blood antibodies) necessary after a few weeks. A negative PCR test rules out infection 95% of the time. A negative test does not exclude the transmission of the virus from the tested horse to other equids.

Can riders whose horses are not at the facility continue to come for daily training in the event of an outbreak?

Yes. However, it is recommended to take organizational measures to minimize the risk of possible transmissions. Contacts between stabled horses. Foreign horses should be carefully avoided. For example, the arriving horses should not be allowed to enter the stable area / wash stalls, etc. Should not be entered. The saddling / outfitting of foreign horses should be done at the transport vehicle if possible. Ideally, fixed times are assigned for the use of the riding areas so that they do not have to be used simultaneously by stabled and foreign horses.

At the very least, strict care must be taken to ensure that the horses do not have direct contact with each other (sniffing at each other, riding side by side).

Are protective measures also required for purely sports facilities (without keeping horses)?

Organizational measures should also be taken to help reduce the risk of infection if an infection has broken out or is suspected in a stable of the user group of a facility.

Contacts between horses from different herds should be avoided. For this purpose, it may be useful, for example, to coordinate times of use for horses from different home stables.

Shared premises or facilities used to prepare and clean horses (tack room, wash stall) should not be used if possible or should be disinfected after use. All users should be carefully informed of the infection control measures and rules in an understandable manner.

Good communication of the rules is a very significant component of health protection.

Access to the stable area should be blocked?

If an infection has broken out or is suspected of breaking out, only those persons who are absolutely necessary for the care and movement of the horses should enter the stable area.

Which disinfectants should be used?

Disinfectants that are effective against viruses should be used. This can be found in the declaration ("virucidal").

What recommendations are there regarding the addition of new horses to the herd?

When new horses are added to the herd, they should first be housed in isolation if possible. At least the direct contact to the horses (also on paddocks, pastures) should be avoided in the first 14 days. Furthermore, a health certificate (not older than 48 hours) should be required. The farm of origin should be certified "disease-free".

Is it reasonable to require a negative PCR test of the horse from new stallholders?

No. A health certificate incl. of the previously mentioned measures is sufficient. Legally, however, every owner has this option.

What is required.of paddocks and pastures important?

Paddocks and pastures should only be shared by closed (consistent) groups if possible. The goal is to avoid constant new or changing contacts between horses that would otherwise be housed separately.

Attention should also be paid to this in the case of adjacent paddocks or pastures, over which fences the horses can make contact.

How to evaluate the use of drinkers, troughs and paddocks by different groups of horses?

Drinking troughs, troughs and troughs or other feeding places should only be shared by horses of a fixed group. As contact point they are predestined to transmit viruses. If paddocks or pastures are used by several groups of horses, they should be cleaned / disinfected.

Information on vaccination against equine herpes virus

Vaccination against equine herpes virus is an important component in the prevention effort. Since vaccination against the herpes virus, in contrast to other known vaccinations (such as tetanus), cannot reliably protect the individual horse from infection, it is often discussed critically,

Why it is nevertheless recommended and especially useful as a stock vaccination, the German Equestrian Federation has summarized in a technical article.

Guideline for the vaccination of horses (StIKo Vet)

The Standing Commission on Vaccination in Veterinary Medicine (StIKo Vet) publishes vaccination guidelines for various animal species. In the vaccination guidelines for horses, the StIKo Vet has long recommended vaccination against the herpes virus.

The following external link leads to the vaccination guideline for horses on the website of the StIKo Vet.

FAQ about vaccination against Equine Herpes Virus

Is the herpes vaccination obligatory??

No. In Germany there is no legal obligation to vaccinate horses against herpes.

For participation in tournaments, however, it will be with effect from 1. January 2023 mandatory. The corresponding anchoring in the sport regulations was decided in July 2021 by the Advisory Board Sport of the German Equestrian Federation.

Is the herpes vaccination reasonable and recommended?

Yes. Vaccination is recommended by the Standing Commission on Vaccination in Veterinary Medicine (StIKo Vet) and by the German Equestrian Federation (Deutsche Reiterliche Vereinigung).

It is critically discussed by many horse owners, because the vaccination against herpes – in contrast to the tetanus vaccination, for example – does not offer such a comprehensive protection against the infection of the individual horse as it is the case with the tetanus vaccination. However, it can favorably influence or mitigate the course of an individual infection

However, consistent vaccination of the entire herd is considered an effective and sensible measure to reduce virus shedding in the entire herd and is recommended accordingly.

Can the operator of the equestrian facility oblige to vaccination?

Association boards or farm managers have the possibility to regulate an obligation to vaccinate in the stabling contract.

Young horses, i.e. weanlings or yearlings, should also be vaccinated?

Yes. After the onset of the so-called immunocompetence of a foal, the vaccination strategy (tetanus, influenza, herpes…) should be discussed individually with the veterinarian and then implemented consistently. Attention: Vaccinations always concern the entire herd.

Does a vaccination make sense for horses that do not leave the farm (e.g., for horses that are not in the stable)?.B. school horses, leisure horses)?

Yes. The virus is also latent in these horse stocks. Again, infection can be caused by transmission from people (riders, handlers, trainers), objects, or stress. A vaccination protects the vaccinated individual and allows infections, if they cannot prevent an infection, to proceed significantly "milder.

If individual horses in the herd are not vaccinated, how should the vaccination of the rest of the herd be classified??

The formula of the so-called "herd immunity" is scientifically valid: If at least 66.6 % of a herd are vaccinated, there is a "vaccination protection". But here, too, unvaccinated horses can become much more seriously ill. To protect each individual of a herd, every horse should be vaccinated.

Does it make sense to vaccinate before the basic vaccination?. to diagnose already existing (dormant) infection?

With significantly increased effort (blood tests) this is possible, but not reasonable.

Can a vaccinated horse still transmit the virus if it has been in contact with a sick horse??

Yes. It can also fall ill itself. Vaccination can mitigate the course of the disease. It is particularly important because consistent vaccination of the herd reduces overall virus shedding.

Is it possible to prescribe a herpes vaccination for leisure horses??

Club boards and farm managers can make participation in the herd vaccination a business condition within the framework of the stallion contracts. This is independent of the purpose for which the horses are used.

What side effects are to be expected?

In addition to local inflammation (swelling, prere pain) at the injection site, increased temperature/fever, exhaustion, reluctance to eat (if necessary. further symptoms) will occur. Experience shows that these disappear after 3-5 days. Scientifically, these side effects u.a. "Vaccination reaction" designated. Considered a positive body response.

Does vaccination still make sense if there is a situation like in March 2021??

Basically, vaccination should not be carried out during an acute wave of infection. Further decisions on this should be discussed with the veterinary surgeon. Waiting for the "next wave" without consistent action is the worst of all options.

Are there special aspects to be considered with regard to pregnant mares?

To what extent does the vaccine protect pregnant mares (5,7,9 months), since it is a "dead vaccine"??

When vaccinating horses to protect them against the herpes virus, the variants of the virus must be distinguished.

Equine herpesvirus type 1 may cause other symptoms (e.g. B. ataxia) than type 4 (foals in pregnant mares).

The current vaccine contains both types (type 1 and type 4). Protection of pregnant mares makes sense to the highest degree, as those responsible for thoroughbred breeding have successfully demonstrated worldwide.

Herpes vaccination compulsory for show horses

To the 1. From January 2023, complete immunization against the herpes virus (EHV-1) will be a prerequisite for participation in competition sport in Germany. This LPO amendment has been decided by the responsible advisory board sport of the German Equestrian Federation in summer 2021 and thus follows a regulation that is already implemented in the gallop sport.

The Standing Veterinary Vaccination Commission (StIKo Vet) has been recommending vaccination for all horses for some time now.

At tournaments horses from many herds meet each other. They should be better protected by vaccination in the future to reduce the risk of disease transmission. The overall goal is to reduce the number of circulating herpes viruses in order to break infection chains and reduce the number of infections.

Transitional period until 1. January 2023

The vaccination obligation for show horses will not become effective until 1. January 2023 effective. There are two reasons for this. First, the long lead time contributes to the good availability of the required vaccines, which was not always the case in spring 2021. Secondly, the transitional period provides all participants with sufficient time to plan and implement the herpes vaccination of their horses in peace and quiet – as far as it is not already carried out within the framework of general preventive health care.

Which vaccines are available?

Three approved vaccines are available on the market in Germany: a live attenuated vaccine and two inactivated vaccines in which the vaccine viruses are present in a killed form. Both inactivated vaccines are effective against EHV-1, one also contains EHV-4 in inactivated form.

Scientific studies have shown that the administration of live vaccine can offer advantages in the immune response, but according to StIKo Vet, all three approved vaccines can be used appropriately. All three vaccines against EHV-1 must be regularly refreshed.

Vaccination intervals for herpes vaccination in show horses

For competition horses (LPO, WBO), the FN prescribes a vaccination from the 1st year of age. January 2023 the vaccination against EHV-1 after basic immunization every six months before. The vaccination schedule for basic immunization depends on whether a live or inactivated vaccine is administered. It is important to use the same vaccine (either live or inactivated) for the first two vaccinations of the basic immunization. After the first two vaccinations, i.e. from the third vaccination of the basic immunization, it is possible to switch between live and inactivated vaccine.

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