Neurological EHV-1 Outbreak in King County

Dec. 15, 2017 – updates below – Washington State Department of Agriculture confirmed an Equine Herpes Virus 1 neurotropic genome strain in a horse in King county.  The 13 year old Halflinger gelding has no neurological symptoms at this time. The facility is under quarantine and the remaining horses are having their temperatures taken twice daily and strict biosecurity practices are in place as well. 

Dec. 20th – Six horses have tested positive for EHV-1 at Gold Creek Equestrian Center, Woodinville, WA.  Gold Creek staff are working very closely with multiple skilled veterinarians to test all potentially afflicted horses, and taking all possible precautions including full biocontainment procedures to reduce the possibility of further transmission. Two of the first horses to test positive were recently transferred to Gold Creek.  Gold Creek is currently under quarantine, December schooling show cancelled and asking that no visitors come to Gold Creek until they confirm that all virus has been eliminated. 

Dec. 22nd – Six horses have been euthanized and two more have symptoms.

Dec 24th – Seventh horse reported to have been euthanized.

Dec 27th – “We continue to mourn the loss of seven very special horses from our herd, but we are very thankful that we have not lost anyone since our last update on 12/23. We are beginning to allow ourselves the hope that we are past the worst of this EHV-1 outbreak.” – Gold Creek Facebook page.

Dec 30th –  “Conditions from the EHV-1 outbreak at Gold Creek Equestrian continue to improve. Throughout the past week, all the horses in two out of our three barns have shown consistently normal temperatures. In the remaining barn, we currently have two horses whose neurologic symptoms are showing improvement and have normal temperatures. Also in the remaining barn we have one horse with an elevated temperature but no neurologic symptoms.” – Gold Creek Facebook page.

Jan 4th – “UPDATE ON EHV-1: I talked with Brian Joseph, DVM this morning. Dr. Joseph is the lead veterinarian at the WA Department of Agriculture. It is his department’s responsibility to track outbreaks like the EHV-1 virus that killed seven horses in Woodinville (last death was 12/23/2017). I called Dr. Joseph because I had heard “through the grapevine” that other horses in western Washington had become ill with EHV-1 since the original Woodinville exposure. I wanted to get confirmation if this was true. Dr. Joseph said that there have been no new reported active cases beyond the original ones at a single location in Woodinville. (There have been a couple concerned calls from horse owners from different areas of the state but none of these panned out as EHV-1.) The WA Department of Ag. website lists the expected maximum length of time between exposure and illness is 14 days. This means that at this point we are beyond the length of time that we would expect any additional horses to become ill from the isolated Woodinville location. (By law veterinarians and labs are required to report to the WA Dept. of Ag any positive diagnoses.) Dr. Joseph told me that the EHV-1 virus has been part of our environment for a very long time and that typically the EHV-1 virus is spread from horse to human to horse; not typically from horse to horse. The best way all of us can avoid another outbreak is to make sure that we practice good infection control as we visit other friends and their horses. This means cleaning our boots and thoroughly washing our hands before entering a farm property. I hope to work with Dr. Joseph and his department to develop a simple set of instructions for all horse owners related to best practices to protect our equines. I will go with his staff to a couple horse events in the coming months allowing them to observe a “typical” gathering. (Don’t worry, we won’t show up to any event without prior permission from the event sponsors!) From this we are hoping that his department can provide suggestions on how to improve protections for our horses whether we are trail riding, competing in an arena, or just visiting a friend’s stable.” – Joan Burlingame

Jan 21st – “Gold Creek EHV-1 Update: It has been 19 days since any of our horses last sustained raised (>102) temperatures, and no new cases of EHV-1 have been diagnosed since that time. The one horse we mentioned monitoring closely has tested negative for EHV-1 on two successive nasal swabs. In all, we lost seven out of sixty-three horses in this outbreak, we have two horses recovering from neurological effects, with the remainder appearing to be well along the path to full healing.” From Gold Creek Equestrian Facebook page post. Click to view and read more about this good news.

You will find updated information on the Gold Creek Facebook page.

Click to view AAEP: FAQ: Regarding Equine Herpesvirus (EHV)

Click to view WSDA: Tips for horse owners – protecting your horse from equine herpes virus

Click to view UC Davis: Awakening the Dormant Dragon: Neurological Form of Equine Herpesvirus-1

Click to view The Horse: Neurologic EHV-1: The Top Five Things You Need To Know

Click to view The Horse: EHV-1: What Are We Learning?

Click to view: Equine Biosecurity Principles and Best Practices

Reminder that although there are several EHV-1 vaccines available that control respiratory disease or abortion in horses, none of the vaccines provide immunity against EHV-1 neurotropic form.  Talk to your veterinarian.

Be educated, informed, and prepared.

Click to view fund raiser for Gold Creek for containment supplies and vet bills.

There is a designated location by the sign at the front gate where members of the community have been dropping off donations of horse treats and cleaning supplies.  At the community’s request Gold Creek has an updated Amazon Wish List of supplies for the horses. Click to view Amazon Wish List

Many barns/facilities are not allowing any haul-ins or haul-outs with some on full lock-down.

Our sincere condolences to the owners and caregivers of the horses, the farm, and all involved.


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