Health

Fatal Herpes Virus Kills Horses In 4 States; California On Alert

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(credit: Ed Darack/Getty Images)

(credit: Ed Darack/Getty Images)

CBS Los Angeles (con't)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Agriculture officials said on Tuesday that horses in at least four Western states have contracted a fatal equine virus after attending a national competition in Utah.

An Idaho State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman told reporters that two cutting horses from the National Cutting Horse Associations’ Western National Championships in Odgen, Utah, have died from what appears to be Equine Herpes Virus-1.

So far, authorities believe it has infected horses in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Canada. But Idaho state veterinarian Bill Barton says veterinarians across the country are being notified that animals in their states could be impacted as well.

Currently, officials say there are no confirmed cases in California.

However, owners who participated in the Idaho event are being instructed to monitor their horses for symptoms, which include nasal discharge, poor coordination, hind end weakness, recumbency, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone.

Rumors quickly began circulating that California would close its borders to inbound horses, but officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture said it’s too early to tell exactly how big the impact will be on in-state horses.

Barton says the virus is easily spread because it can be airborne and transmitted by touch or through sharing brushes, bits or other equipment, but it doesn’t pose a risk to humans.

Llamas and alpacas can also be infected.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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