Neurotropic Equine Herpes Virus -1

A case of nEHV-1 with neurological symptoms has been confirmed in a horse in Saskatchewan. Although other horses on the premises have tested negative and not moved since the original diagnosis, the index horse had been present at a roping/rodeo event in Alberta just prior to diagnosis.

Equine Herpes Virus -1 is a contagious disease of horses that has been around for a long time. The classical form of the disease causes respiratory disease, abortions in mares and rarely neurological (brain and spinal cord) disease. In the past few years a new strain of the virus has emerged in North America that causes more severe disease. It is called neuropathogenic or neurotropic EHV-1. This virus poses no human health risk.

nEHV -1 can be spread between horses through the nasal secretions of infected horses, as well as, being transferred indirectly by people and equipment.  The best practices to protect your horses from this and other infectious diseases are to:
* Follow sound biosecurity practices that prevents infectious disease spread including:

  • Hand washing in between handling individual horses
  • Not sharing equipment and feeding utensils between horses
  • Changing your clothes and footwear after handling sick equines
  • Disinfecting any environment and equipment exposed to sick equines (stalls,
    trailers, tack)

* Monitor your horses closely for signs of infection (fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge, lethargy, etc.)
* Call your veterinarian if your horse is not well to determine the cause of illness.
* Prevent exposure of your horse to sick horses.
* Vaccinate your horses against common infectious diseases. While vaccinations don’t specifically protect horses against nEHV-1, they do prevent other diseases and make your horse more likely to remain healthy. Speak to your veterinarian about the vaccines you should use on your horses.

Additional information about preventing nEHV-1 in your horses can be found at the CFIA website at
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Alberta’s Chief Provincial Veterinarian at 780 427 3448.

To received notifications directly to your email, please ensure that your information is accurate and up-to-date in Alberta’s Premises Identification System. Please visit or call the Alberta Ag-Info Centre toll-free at 310-FARM (3276) to register or to update your information.

Published on July 18, 2018 from Dr. Keith Lehman, Chief Provincial Veterinarian