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Horse virus outbreak has local farm owners watching

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One Jonesville horse farm is dealing with a virus that’s currently plaguing the Northwestern United States. University of Florida Veterinary General Medicine Chief Rob MacKay says complications with Equine Herpes Virus-1 can often be fatal to horses.

“Instead of having cold like symptoms- upper respiratory symptoms- instead of having those they have a paralytic disease where they often become paralyzed, go down on the ground and cannot get up,” he says.

MacKay says this problem is not a significant threat to North Central Florida right now, but horse owners should be especially careful if traveling outside the Southeast. He says almost every horse is born with this virus, which is not generally fatal until complications arise.

“When their immune system gets down, the virus can be reactivated, so they can be carrying this virus all the time and then suddenly it will wake up and attack them, and that seems to come out of nowhere when that happens.”

MacKay says vaccines are not normally effective in preventing horses from catching the virus, but it can be helpful in preventing its spread. Horse owners looking for more information about the current outbreak status can find details on www.aaep.org.

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