Horse at 4-H horse show euthanized; exhibitors told to look for signs of deadly virus

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A horse at the Minnesota State 4-H Horse Show was euthanized Friday after exhibiting symptoms similar to a highly contagious virus, and now the University of Minnesota is urging anyone who brought animals to the show to look for signs of the virus.

Based on the symptoms, there is a possibility the horse may have had Equine Herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) – a deadly virus that can cause fever, respiratory issues and neurological disease, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) says.

The virus can spread when horses from different sources are commingled, AAEP notes.

The euthanized horse is being tested for the virus, with the results expected this week, the U of M said in an email to exhibitors at the horse show.

In the meantime, the U of M is advising any exhibitor at the show, which runs through Monday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, to practice biosecurity measures – isolate returning horses for 21 days and watch for signs of fever, nasal discharge and diarrhea.

Horse owners are asked to take the animal's temperature daily, and if it's above 102 degrees or the horse shows neurological signs, they should contact a veterinarian immediately.

About 640 horses were registered for the show, the Pioneer Press says. Amid fear of the virus spreading, some events were canceled.

The euthanized horse was from Clay County, the paper notes.

Event organizers and 4-H participants are working with exhibitors on making arrangements for the horses during the quarantine. Anyone who is having trouble finding a place to house their horse for the next three weeks is asked to contact Renee Kostick at 218-232-5174, the U of M notes.

Earlier this year, seven horses from around the metro showed signs of EHV-1, prompting animals to be quarantined. Three of the horses had to be euthanized.

EHV-1 does not affect humans, dogs, cats, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs or bids, but can affect alpacas and llamas, the U of M notes.

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