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Equine herpes virus outbreak spooks horse owners

May 24, 2011 | 10:56 am

Acton rancher David Booth plays with his dog Lucky and horse Powered by Pep, which appears to be on the path to recovery after being treated for a dangerous strain of equine herpes virus.

A highly contagious airborne virus has killed or led to the euthanization of at least seven horses this month and sown fear in equine circles across the Western states.

The equine herpes virus-1 outbreak was traced to an event in Ogden, Utah, between April 18 and May 3  and has spread to nine states, including California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, authorities said.

Horse events from Tulsa, Okla., to San Diego County have been canceled because of the scare.

Colorado, where there have been 22 suspected cases and two horses have been euthanized, is requiring health certifications for horses crossing its border.

In California, the Department of Food and Agriculture reported one new case of EHV-1 on Monday. That brought the state's total to 18, including a horse in Acton named Powered by Pep and another horse in Ventura County.

Seven of the infected horses displayed severe neurological symptoms, including one whose condition grew so grave that he had to be put down, authorities said.

The 17 others are under a state-ordered quarantine and are being treated by private veterinarians, said Steve Lyle, public affairs director at the Department of Food and Agriculture.

Lyle said the department was not ordering or recommending that horse events in the state be canceled, though "that could change at some point."

Read more about the equine herpes outbreak.

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-- Gale Holland

Photo: Acton rancher David Booth plays with his dog Lucky and horse Powered by Pep, which appears to be on the path to recovery after being treated for a dangerous strain of equine herpes virus. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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