Weather Forecast


Potentially deadly horse virus outbreak contained

UW-River Falls Animal Health Professor Peter Rayne is shown with “Tonka” at the university’s Campus Laboratory Farm. (Rivertowns photo by Chuck Nowlen)

RIVER FALLS--An outbreak of the potentially deadly Equine Herpes Virus threw a scare into the local horse community early this year, but was contained by quick action on well-established response protocols, according to a UW-River Falls expert.

“It’s one of those things where you have to be ever-vigilant,” Animal Health Professor Peter Rayne said in an interview.

“So there was a lot of interest and awareness once the initial cases were diagnosed… There have been no cases in the state since late-March, when the last positive horse was identified in Wisconsin.”

At least 10 horses were infected with Equine Herpes Virus in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa in March and April, including one in St. Croix County and two others in Polk and Lafayette counties, according to several reports. One report also listed an infection in Burnett County.

A second, “highly suspicious” case occurred in St. Croix County in February, and the animal was euthanized, according to another source. That case reportedly involved the same farm where Equine Herpes Virus was later confirmed in March.

The highly contagious virus, which remains dormant in infected animals after exposure, but can revive during periods of stress, can cause neurological, urinary and respiratory problems, neonatal death and abortion.

For more please read the July 30 print version of the Herald. 

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

(715) 808-8286