Monday, Mar. 4, 2024

EHV-1 Update: Maryland Lesson Barn Reports 40+ Horses Ill

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More than 40 horses at Meadowbrook Stables, a long-established lesson barn in Montgomery County, Maryland, have developed “mild to moderate” neurologic symptoms of EHV-1 since the virus was discovered there March 9, according to a GoFundMe page set up by the nonprofit organization that runs the barn.

The first confirmed case at the Chevy Chase, Maryland, facility, was a lesson pony named River, who was admitted to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, on March 9 with neurologic symptoms and was euthanized March 10, according to a March 18 post to the stable’s Facebook page.

“Although we were shocked by her loss, we immediately began working with our veterinarian, Dr. Suzanne Welker, to self-quarantine, notify the State vet, and closely monitor the other 49 horses on our property,” the post stated. “We set up 24 temporary stalls in our indoor ring, began taking temperatures and assessing all other horses for EHV-1 symptoms round the clock, and implemented biosecurity protocols. The next day, Friday 3/11, an Assistant State Veterinarian visited Meadowbrook and issued a routine hold order, meaning that horses must remain on site.”

Representatives from Meadowbrook Stables did not respond to requests for comment, but according to their Facebook posts, three additional horses were sent to the clinic in Leesburg, but all returned to the farm to continue treatment. The farm has been closed to lessons and boarders since March 10 to reduce stress on the horses and prevent transmission of the virus to other facilities.

“We immediately notified local horse show managers, as well as [Interscholastic Equestrian Association] leadership, of the situation,” the March 18 Facebook post stated. “No horse has left our property other than to go to EMC.”

According to a GoFundMe page set up by the farm on March 22 to help cover expenses, more than 40 horses at the facility have developed neurological symptoms.

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“Fortunately, most of these are mild to moderate cases being treated by our staff on site,” the page states. “They are resting, and we’re optimistic that most of them will make a full recovery over the next four to six weeks.”

As of press time, the GoFundMe has raised just over $21,000 of the $85,000 goal to cover medications, veterinary bills, temporary stabling, additional staffing and additional biomedical supplies.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture confirmed the initial case of equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, the neurologic version of EHV-1, on March 16.

On March 22, a department spokesperson said MDA is aware of only seven confirmed positive cases on the farm now, but said sharing additional cases on the same premises is not department policy. Because the national Equine Disease Communication Center gets information for its database from state sources, that website, too, only lists the three initial cases. The MDA spokesperson did not specify whether any of the additional cases were positive for EHM.

“It is MDA policy to only report the first instance of EHV-1/EHM on a farm,” spokesman Jason Schellhardt said in an email. “This first case automatically triggers a hold order barring movement on/off the property. The horses have been under observation of private veterinarians, and the virus is contained to this specific farm at this point.”

EHV-1 Resources:
• Learn more about EHV-1 and EHM from the EDCC factsheet.
• Keep up with EHV-1 and other reportable disease outbreaks nationwide with the EDCC disease alert database.
• Learn more about biosecurity best practices recommended by USEF.
• Read all of the Chronicle’s coverage of the 2022 California EHV-1 outbreak.

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