EHV-1 Infection Risk in Alpacas and Llamas
An outbreak of neurologic disease in horses caused by Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) infections has developed during the past week in the Western US and Canada. This outbreak is linked to horses that participated in a cutting horse show in Utah form April 29 to May 8. Most horses returned to their originating farms before clinical signs developed. It has since spread to most (if not all) of the Western states where there are reports of severely affected horses with neurlogic disease. This EHV-1 outbreak has spread beyond primary cases (those attending the Utah horse show) and is now being reported among in-contact horses from the home premises.
EHV-1 can also affect alpacas and llamas; however, at the time of this writing, there have been no reported alpaca or llama cases associated with the current horse outbreak.
Alpacas and llamas can become infected with EHV-1 following close contact with an infected equine, most likely through exposure to virus that is shed in nasal secretions or through indirect contact (hands, clothing, feeders, waterers, or other equipment). Disease due to Equine herpesvirus-1 infection is uncommon in camelids. Previous reports indicate that infected alpacas develop signs including blindness, changes in mentation and behavior, and other neurological signs. Clinically affected animals often developed severe disease that may result in death or euthanasia of the animal. Confirmation of a diagnosis in alpacas and llamas can be difficult since they do not seem to shed as much virus in nasal secretions or have virus in the blood like horses. Thus, virus detection in nasal swabs and blood may be negative in infected camelids. Acute and convalescent serology is recommended to help confirm a suspected infection or exposure in an alpaca or llama.
More information about EHV-1 in horses: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ceh/ehv1_general.cfm
If you have more questions, please contact your veterinarian or the CSU VTH at 970-297-5000.
Further reading: (3.8mb APHIS brochure)
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