What are Equine Rhinopneumonitis?
Vaccines are available for your horse, but will not always provide complete protection from the disease. Foals and younger horses are more susceptible to equine rhinopneumonitis, although horses of any age can contract the disease.
Equine rhinopneumonitis, or equine viral rhinopneumonitis, is a highly contagious disease. It is also known as viral abortion since an abortion can result following respiratory and neurological problems. Research shows no evidence that equine rhinopneumonitis can be passed to other species or has any affect on other species.
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Symptoms of Equine Rhinopneumonitis in Horses
Your horse can be exposed to the virus and incubate the disease for two to ten days prior to showing any symptoms. If you know that your horse was exposed to equine rhinopneumonitis, monitor them closely for any signs of illness and place them in quarantine as a precaution to protect your other horses. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see any symptoms.
- Fever that lasts for 1 to 7 days
- Not eating
- Nasal discharge
- Paralysis in the hindquarters
- Unable to stand up
- Loss of bladder function
Pregnant mares can abort their pregnancies between 7 and 11 months of gestation, usually about 2 to 12 weeks after infected with equine rhinopneumonitis.
Causes of Equine Rhinopneumonitis in Horses
Equine rhinopneumonitis is transmitted both directly and indirectly. The virus is airborne and can travel through the air for short distances. Direct contact occurs when an infected horse and an uninfected horse come into contact with each other; usually nose to nose contact has to occur. Indirect contact can also spread the virus. This can occur through sharing buckets and blankets with an infected horse or from the virus getting on your clothing and then into your horse’s system.
Equine rhinopneumonitis can also be transmitted by coming into contact with an aborted fetus, the placental fluids or the actual placenta from an infected horse. Keep horses suspected of having or been diagnosed with equine rhinopneumonitis in quarantine, away from other horses. After handling an infected horse, change your clothing and scrub your hands or any skin that has come into contact with the infected horse prior to handling uninfected horses.
Diagnosis of Equine Rhinopneumonitis in Horses
Your veterinarian will begin by completing a thorough physical examination along with a complete blood count. A CBC will reveal any antibody titers to indicate that equine rhinopneumonitis is present.
Swabs of the nose and throat, called nasopharyngeal swabs will be done to look for the virus. If your horse has aborted, then a tissue sample from the aborted fetus or the placenta may be taken for detection of the virus within the tissues.
Treatment of Equine Rhinopneumonitis in Horses
There is no cure for equine rhinopneumonitis. Only supportive care can be given to your horse. Your veterinarian will set a treatment plan in place for your horse, be sure to follow the treatment plan and report to your veterinarian any changes in your horse’s condition.
Your horse should be placed in quarantine immediately. Any other horses need to be moved away from the infected horse. If your horse is a work horse, all work should be stopped immediately.
Antibiotics will be given to prevent any secondary infections from occurring.
If your horse’s condition has declined and at home care is not possible, hospitalization will be necessary along with IV fluids.
It is recommended that horses start getting the equine viral rhinopneumonitis vaccine at three months of age. They should get the second dose one month later at four months of age. Booster vaccines are to be given twice a year.
Recovery of Equine Rhinopneumonitis in Horses
Most horses that are infected with equine rhinopneumonitis do recover. However, if your horse is affected with paralysis or is unable to stand, the prognosis is grave. While your horse is recovering from equine rhinopneumonitis, stay in contact with your veterinarian and report any changes your horse is experiencing. Follow up with any necessary appointments and complete the set treatment plan to help your horse make a full recovery.
The virus is able to be viable for up to two months. The stall that your horse is housed in will need to be disinfected, preferably with bleach or ammonia, to completely kill the virus. All bedding that has come into contact with your horse needs to be removed and properly disposed of, good ventilation will also be needed in the stables so fresh air is present at all times.