Two cases of fatal equine herpesvirus type I (EHV-1) neurological disease have been confirmed in the Dickinson, Texas, area. Three more recent deaths are suspected to be associated with the virus as well. The horses were from two boarding stables that are currently under quarantine, as is a veterinary clinic. As always, there’s a need for prudence and common sense in this situation. EHV-1 outbreaks are typically small and easily contained, but the right combination of bad luck and bad management can lead to widespread problems. The keys to containing an outbreak like this are prompt investigation to identify exposed horses, good communication, honesty (e.g. not hiding the fact that you have a sick or exposed horse), cooperation/compliance and basic infection control practices. So far, it sounds like none of the monitored horses have developed signs of infection and hopefully this one’s going to be done soon.
A more perplexing situation is the report of glanders (Burkholderia mallei infection) in a German horse. Glanders is a very serious disease in horses that can also be transmitted to people, and B. mallei is considered a potential bioterrorism agent. Glanders has been eradicated in many regions of the world, but some are concerned that eradication may be at risk. This case supports that concern since Germany hasn’t seen a case of glanders since 1955, and the affected horse in this case never left the country. The horse wasn’t sick, but it had serological (antibody) evidence of having been infected. Testing was only performed because the horse was being exported. Serological testing was repeated and was still positive, so the horse was euthanized. Glanders was subsequently confirmed through identification of bacterial DNA from skin scabs. None of the 30 other horses that were being monitored developed disease and all were negative on blood tests. The situation is considered "resolved," but with no source identified. The OIE report concludes “It is known that the affected animal had never been moved outside of Germany. There might have been indirect contacts to South America. The source of infection is still unknown.”