Valley horse owners warned about equine herpes |

Valley horse owners warned about equine herpes

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen CO Colorado

EL JEBEL – Veterinarians in the Roaring Fork Valley want to make sure horse owners are aware of a form of equine herpes that is spreading in western U.S. states.

Veterinarian Charles Maker of the Alpine Animal Hospital in the midvalley said his office sent an email to 350 clients Monday night to alert them to the viral infection and to dispel rumors that are spreading about it. Based on the inquiries the email produced, many valley horse owners were unaware of the problem, he said Tuesday afternoon.

The outbreak of equine herpes virus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) started at a cutting horse show in Ogden, Utah, that ended May 8, investigators suspect. EHM is a highly contagious respiratory disease, Maker said. There is no known equine vaccination that provides protection against this strain of herpes, he said.

Horses that were potentially exposed to the virus at the show have returned to several western states. To compound the danger, horses that were exposed but didn’t get sick can be carriers, investigators believe. The viral infection can be fatal.

Maker said he hasn’t heard of any horses in the Roaring Fork Valley that have gotten sick from the virus. Educating horse owners and getting them to take precautions is vital to avoid an outbreak, he said.

Alpine Animal Hospital is posting updated information as it becomes available on its Facebook page. Maker also advised people caring for horses to visit the website for the American Association of Equine Practitioners at for more detailed information.

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