The Truth about Equine Herpesvirus

James Tabor Warren


On April 23rd, 2012 Tennessee’s annual Bucksnort trail ride opened to horse men and women from all across the nation. This was the 25th year for their horse boarding and riding program, however, this was the year many horse owners wished they had missed. An outbreak of the potentially deadly Equine herpesvirus spread to many of the unsuspecting horses at the event, striking many with illness and ending the lives of several others. (Thompson) What has continued to baffle scientists are questions regarding; why would the Equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) affect the population of horses at the event differently? Provoking this question further, how exactly does the virus spread, what does it affect, what happens to the foal within a pregnant mare? Understanding the role EHV-1 plays in the multi-billion dollar horse community has brought to light a great deal of recent research from universities around the country.  Current research has deemed a high level of importance in the field of genetic mapping, specifically, a great deal of progress has been made over the last few years with regard to completing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, so much so that genetic screening via “PCR assays has become the diagnostic test of choice” (Pusteria) Unfortunately, even though the horse’s owner can opt for a screening test, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the fundamentals of such a tragic disease.

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