Three more horses in California have been confirmed as having the neurological strain of rhinopneumonitis known as equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM), and one of them is in Los Angeles County. An Acton horse owner told Chatsworth Patch that a neighbor's horse was being treated for EHM and had just returned from a cutting event in Ogden, UT, where the outbreak of the virus appears to have originated.
As a precautionary measure, Chatsworth boarding stable owners are imposing quarantines on their facilities. Boarding stables in Chatsworth that are under voluntary quarantine include Browns Canyon Ranch and Misty Hollow Stables (also known as “Dave Wendler’s” by local trail riders). The quarantines will be in effect for two weeks.
Steve Lyle, director of public affairs for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, told Chatsworth Patch that there are currently 13 confirmed cases in California.
EHM can be fatal and result in death in about 30 percent of cases. Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, decreased muscle tone and muscle weakness. One of the first signs of the viral disease is a rise in temperature, typically to 102 degrees or higher.
Horse owners who suspect their animal has been exposed to the virus should take the horse's temperature twice a day, said Chatsworth veterinarian Marta Granstedt. If a spike in temperature is observed, owners should call a veterinarian immediately, isolate the horse and practice "biosecurity," such as washing hands and not sharing equipment with the infected horse, she said.
Glenn and Plumas counties have been added to the list of California counties with confirmed cases, including Kern, Amador, Napa, Stanislaus and Placer counties. A veterinarian in Ventura County told Chatsworth Patch that horses are being treated for EHM there, but those cases have not yet been confirmed by lab test results.
Locally and across the western U.S., equestrian events have been canceled due to the outbreak. The National Barrel Horse Association District 17 canceled its race in Acton this weekend. District 10 canceled a practice show in Simi Valley that had been scheduled for next weekend. Local Equestrian Trails Inc.’s Corral 54 canceled its annual Trail Trials and Poker Ride, a local event that has been held in Chatsworth every year for decades.
Charlotte Brodie, Corral 54’s Trail Trials director, said, “It's always difficult to make this kind of decision after all the hard work and planning that has taken place for the event. However, we also don't want any problems stemming from any inaction to look out for the safety of participants and their horse.”
Despite the fact that equestrian event centers throughout the western U.S. are closing their gates, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center is open for business, and the Langer Hunter/Jumper Show will proceed as planned.
Local veterinarian Robert Bradley commented in an online statement posted on the Langer website on May 17: “As of this date, there have been no new cases reported since May 13. Since there have been no new California cases reported for five days (and no reported cases in Los Angeles County), I feel there will be minimal risk to the hunter/jumper shows at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.”
Meanwhile, the National Barrel Horse Association announced Thursday that its Las Vegas Supershow scheduled for June 1-5 has been postponed until July 8-10 as a result of the outbreak. Executive Director Sherry Fulmer explained, “After seeking advice from appropriate official agencies we have jointly made the decision to postpone the Professional’s Choice NBHA Super Show that was scheduled to take place June 1-5 at the South Point Equestrian Center.”
Some equestrians have speculated whether the famed Mule Days that takes place over Labor Day Weekend annually in Bishop will go on as planned. The Mule Days Board of Directors issued a statement Thursday that the event will proceed, noting that mules and donkeys are typically only carriers, not victims, of the virus.
Events that have been canceled due to the EHM outbreak include:
- All National Cutting Horse Association events, until further notice.
- All events scheduled at the Murieta Equestrian Center, Murieta, CA until further notice.
- May 21 - Simi Valley Riders Two Day Gymkhana, Arroyo Simi Equestrian Center, Simi Valley
- May 21 - NBHA District 17 Barrel Race, Breeze E Ranch, Acton
- May 22 - ETI Corral 54 Trail Trails and Poker Ride
- May 28 - NBHA District 10 Practice Day, Arroyo Simi Equestrian Center, Simi Valley