Altoona Horse Barn Quarantined After Horse Dies From Highly Contagious Virus

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ALTOONA, Iowa -- The Iowa Department of Agriculture has confirmed a highly contagious virus in a horse barn in Altoona.

Equine Herpes Virus or EHV-1 can be fatal to horses and can easily spread from one horse to another through humans and even inanimate objects. It’s not a threat to humans or other animals, but it can be deadly to horses.

Now, state veterinarians are issuing a quarantine to try to prevent an outbreak.

“That's why we implement a quarantine,” state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand said. “[The facility] is also monitoring all the horses twice a day for any other clinical signs. We would take the next steps if a horse shows clinical signs. We would test that horse and determine if that horse might be affected also.”

The horse was boarded at the Pine Hollow Stables in Altoona. The state veterinarian says no other horses at the stable are infected as of Monday afternoon, but the quarantine is still necessary until they are sure the virus isn't spreading.

The horse owner, Heather Otis, says the infected horse, Rowdy, went from perfectly fine to nearly dead in a matter of hours. She sent Channel 13 a video of Rowdy unable to get up. He ended up having to be euthanized. She says he was given the vaccine just last spring.

“He's never been transported like this whole year so it wasn't like he went somewhere and contacted this,” Otis said. “I don't want to point fingers because I don't have a finger to point to really, but that's not going to bring him back.”

Dr. Kaisand says it’s important for all horse owners and the Altoona horse barn to take precautions and use biosecurity to prevent an outbreak.

“It could've come in different ways,” Dr. Kaisand said. “It could've come in from a different horse or it could've been in the horse for a long time, but in order to make sure, we are being cautious and it doesn't spread to other horses. That's why we quarantine the facility, monitor horses in case they've been exposed and may show clinical signs and leave and go expose other horses.”

He says it is the horse barn owners responsibility to notify the other horse owners of the quarantine.

There is a horse fair put on by the Iowa Horse Council set for this weekend at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We spoke with President David Beary who says the event is still on after speaking with Dr. Kaisand and other vets confirming there is no increased risk at this time. One horse was asked to not attend the event, since it was determined it may have been in contact with the infected horse.

Beary says it's standard procedure for them to have a vet on the fair grounds for the horse fair, and that will not change this weekend. Also, like always, all horses that come to the fair must have health papers present.

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