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NewsWatch: 2007: Equine Herpes

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[Narrator:] From the University of California at Davis, this is NewsWatch.

[Paul Pfotenhauer:] A racehorse from Golden Gate Fields is still fighting a deadly herpes infection that caused a number of racetracks in the Bay Area to be quarantined. That horse is being treated here at the UC Davis vet school. Six horses that contracted this disease in Florida last month died.

[David Wilson:] There are actually four forms of the disease and three of them can be fatal.

[Paul Pfotenhauer:] The clinical signs of infection include fever, respiratory symptoms and in some cases, neurological problems.

[David Wilson:] They'll start to show a little incordination and weakness in the hind end, maybe some loss of bladder control. And the signs can progress quite quickly to the extent that horses may not be able to rise.

[Paul Pfotenhauer:] So far, five racehorses in the Bay Area have tested positive with this virus. The treatment includes isolation because this virus can spread from horse to horse. Wilson says intensive nursing care is needed immediately, and a human antiviral drug seems to work on horses that have the neurogenic strain.

[David Wilson:] Recently we've started using a new antiviral drug -- at least new to horses. This is a drug called valacyclovir or Valtrex which is used to treat herpes simplex in humans.

[Paul Pfotenhauer:] Wilson says this is not a rapidly spreading plague that is affecting multiple groups of horses, but isolating new horses for a few days is always a good idea. While there are several vaccines available for protection, there is no equine vaccine that protects horses against this neurological form of herpesvirus. Reporting from UC Davis, I'm Paul Pfotenhauer.

[Narrator:] For more information please log on to broadcast.ucdavis.edu.

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Original Air Date: January 1, 2007    Total Run Time: 00:00:00

Media contact(s):
• Paul Pfotenhauer, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-6397, pepfotenhauer@ucdavis.edu