Equine Herpes


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Equine Herpes Virus

The Different Variants Of The Equine Herpes Virus

The herpes virus is not just found in human beings. In fact, the viruses is found in most every mammal across the face of the globe. In most instances it is a minor concern and causes little to no harm to its host. The equine herpes virus is very common in horses. There are 5 different types of herpes virus found in horses to date. Some can cause serious problems especially if the horse is pregnant. All of the herpes viruses that infect horses are from the same family of viruses however they are split into two other subfamilies. You have equine herpesvirus 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The equine herpesvirus 1 otherwise known as EHV–1 causes mainly respiratory disease in horses. It seldom causes any other complications except for occasional mortality in newborn foals.

Equine herpesvirus 2 has not been shown to directly cause any symptoms in horses but it has been genetically isolated from horses that have had respiratory problems including infection with EHV-1. Further studies are needed to confirm whether or not EHV-2 has any role in disease.

Equine herpesvirus 3 is very similar to human genital herpes. It causes a disease called equine coital exanthema. Essentially, females and males both get lesions on their sexual organs which can last up to several weeks. These lesions can be very painful and result in secondary infections just as they can in humans. Again, no known cure exists for EHV-3 but lesions eventually dissipate with horses returning to normal sexual function after a period of a month or two.

Equine herpesvirus 4 is responsible for rhinopneumonitis in equids. Rhinopneumonitis is simply a respiratory infection. For adult horses this is not a big concern but it is for younger horses especially newborn foals. Any kind of infection especially in the lungs of newborn horses can be serious. Luckily, there are vaccines available for equine herpesvirus 4 and are in wide use across the Western world.

The final form of equine herpesvirus is equine herpesvirus 5. Like equine herpesvirus 2, number 5 has just recently been isolated from horses with respiratory infections. Not much is currently known about what role equine herpesvirus 5 has any of these infections but research is ongoing.

Equine herpes virus has a long and well known history in the horse world. Luckily, many of the variants that cause serious disease or death have a vaccine or treatment method available. Like in human beings, the key to preventing the spread of the herpesvirus is minimizing contact between infected individuals and non-infected individuals.

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