More about EHV-1 Contagion and Quarantine at DEFHR

As the Maryland Department of Agriculture shared, Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) is currently under a 30-day quarantine because two horses on our farm were diagnosed with the non-neuropathogenic strain of equine herpes virus type-1 (EHV-1). According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), EHV viruses "are found in most horses all over the world. Almost all horses have been infected with the virus and have no serious side effects.” The virus can be activated in horses experiencing stress. Therefore, everyone who owns an equine runs the risk of their horses being affected by EHV. Stress in equines can be caused by change of environment, herd dynamics, or physical or emotional strain.

An active EHV-1 is contagious and can spread by direct horse-to-horse contact through nasal secretions. The virus can also spread indirectly through contact with physical objects contaminated with the virus, including clothing, equipment, tack, trailers, etc.

The initial horse at DEFHR – a Quarter Horse gelding – presented atypical neurological symptoms and was euthanized due to deteriorating health conditions and sent to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Frederick Animal Health Lab for a necropsy. Through examination and testing, the horse tested positive for non-neuropathogenic EHV-1. A second horse – an Appaloosa colt – presented with a fever and tested positive for non-neuropathogenic EHV-1. DEFHR and our veterinarians made the decision to euthanize this horse because his quality of life was already in question and it was a means to best protect the current herd. We are working closely and regularly with veterinarians to ensure the ongoing health of our current herd.

At this time, all public activities on the farm are canceled. This is to ensure the safety of DEFHR’s herd and to protect other equines within our community. We have extensive experience in biosecurity and quarantine best practices due to the nature of our business, which has enabled us to ensure timely detection and effective containment.

In our 27-year history, this is the first time EHV-1 has clinically presented on our farm. Our priority is to protect our horses as well as all of Maryland’s horses. We will continue to work closely with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and our veterinarians to ensure the safety and health of our herd.

Feel free to email or call (301.854.5037) me with any questions or concerns. In addition, find a list of frequently asked questions from the AAEP here or contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture or your veterinarian for additional details.

Erin Clemm Ochoa, Executive Director