OSU Veterinarians Respond To Case Of Virus Harmful To Horses, Alpacas, And Llamas

Nov 9, 2017

Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is ceasing all medical and surgical services for horses, llamas, and alpacas for at least two weeks.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, it’s because they’ve isolated a horse infected with a potentially harmful virus. 

Credit Rob Mitchell / Flickr.com

The horse was recently transported from Coos Bay, with an acute case of equine herpes virus. While naturally occurring and common in horses, a mutated, neurotropic form of the virus can cause severe problems if untreated.

Erica McKenzie, OSU Professor of Large Animal Internal Medicine.
Credit Oregon State University

Erica McKenzie is a professor of Large Animal Internal Medicine at OSU. 

“Occasionally horses that are infected with the wild type strain can develop neurologic signs," she says. 

"And horses infected with a mutated strain have a higher likelihood of showing neurologic signs: hind limb weakness, difficulty urinating, difficulty passing manure, and having a flaccid tail. 

"Occasionally shaking of legs or muscles.” 

Credit Else10 / Flickr.com

The virus can also cause abortions in pregnant mares. 

While not transmissible to people, humans can spread it on their hands, clothing, or utensils.  Other horses, as well as alpacas and llamas, are at risk.  For the latter group, the virus can cause blindness and damage to their central nervous system.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.