Equine her­pes on stud­farm

Vets move fast to con­tain dis­ease

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Vet­eri­nar­i­ans have moved to as­sure Waikato horse own­ers that an out­break of equine her­pes has min­i­mal po­ten­tial to spread.

Six brood­mares were de­stroyed at an un­named Waikato thor­ough­bred stud­farm last week but of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day there was no cause for un­nec­es­sary alarm.

The Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries per­formed a post­mortem on the dead an­i­mals and con­firmed the case as New Zealand’s first of equine her­pes virus type 1, but in a state­ment on its web­site said it was ‘‘con­fi­dent that all af­fected horses are con­tained and the sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol’’.

Only one farm was af­fected in the out­break and Equine Health As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Ivan Bridge said the stud­farm had vol­un­tar­ily placed 12 mares in quar­an­tine.

Mr Bridge said a Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries team in­ves­ti­gated the deaths of the mares with a Massey Univer­sity vet recog­nised as a world leader in neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions.

‘‘Be­cause of the unique po­si­tion of where these horses were in re­la­tion to the rest of the horses on the farm, the MPI in­ves­ti­ga­tors were sat­is­fied it rep­re­sented very low risk to any other equine pop­u­la­tion,’’ Mr Bridge said.

He said the rea­son for the out­break was not known but al­most ev­ery horse in New Zealand would have had ex­po­sure to her­pes.

‘‘Close to 100 per cent of horses in New Zealand will have had ex­po­sure to the her­pes virus and are la­tent car­ri­ers of equine her­pes one,’’ he said.

‘‘This is the first time it’s been iden­ti­fied in our out­break of neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease but there’s cer­tainly no cause for alarm or para­noia. We don’t need to be para­noid but we do need to be ob­ser­vant and if any­one no­tices a horse with what ap­pears to be stag­gers, it’s prob­a­bly worth fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

Ex­ec­u­tive ad­viser to the as­so­ci­a­tion Tr­ish Pearce was re­ported as say­ing the strain of her­pes was likely to have ar­rived with an im­ported horse.

Mr Bridge said it was un­clear whether year­lings from the stud­farm af­fected were sold at the Karaka year­ling sales but no year­lings would have come in con­tact with the group of older mares any­way.

The Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries web­site said equine her­pes virus type 1 could not be trans­mit­ted to peo­ple or other an­i­mals and did not pose a risk to hu­man health.

It ad­vised horse own­ers to be vig­i­lant for signs of dis­ease, such as fever, de­creased co-or­di­na­tion, urine drib­bling, lethargy, hind limb weak­ness, lean­ing against a wall or fence to main­tain bal­ance and the in­abil­ity to rise, and to con­tact their vet­eri­nar­ian if they were con­cerned.

Waikato studmas­ters spo­ken to were sat­is­fied the virus had been con­tained and the out­break had been dealt with quickly and pro­fes­sion­ally.

Cam­bridge Stud boss Sir Pa­trick Ho­gan said he was made aware of the sit­u­a­tion on Mon­day but he did not know the lo­ca­tion of the stud con­cerned.

‘‘As I can see, the right or­gan­i­sa­tions are in­volved and the right pro­ce­dures are tak­ing place,’’ he said.

‘‘ The ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties are deal­ing with it and all I’ve done is told my staff to be more vig­i­lant and take pre­cau­tions if they spot any­thing out of the or­di­nary.’’

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