Survey results show desire to improve awareness of equine herpes virus (EHV) - Veterinary Practice
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Survey results show desire to improve awareness of equine herpes virus (EHV)

On 29 August, Zoetis Inc released the results of two surveys concerning equine herpes virus (EHV); results show that vets are keen to reduce the risks of infection

The surveys, prompted by the recent flu outbreak, have shown that vets and horse owners are keen to actively reduce the risks of this lesser known but common infectious respiratory disease. In response Zoetis is supporting vets and owners with awareness and online education resources to help combat the threat of EHV.

Zoetis ran the two surveys about EHV in March this year, one aimed at vets and the other at horse owners. The intention was to gain a better understanding of veterinary approaches to reduction and control of EHV outbreaks as well as learn more about horse owner knowledge of EHV, in order to identify the most effective ways to minimise the risks it poses. Around 1300 responses were received.

Horse owner survey

  • 87 percent of the horse owner group said they vaccinate for flu and tetanus. 40 percent of this group vaccinate for EHV.
  • However 55 percent of horse owners who completed the survey were unaware that there is a vaccine available against EHV.
  • 77 percent of horse owners who don’t currently vaccinate said they now would, having learnt more about it. Veterinary advice and rider association endorsement were consistently identified as the most significant influencers when it comes to making decisions to vaccinate.

Vet survey

  • 93 percent of vets agreed that EHV vaccination is effective for its licensed indications
  • 83 percent agreed that EHV may impact performance in competition horses.
  • The majority sought endorsement from rider associations and key opinion leaders to increase recommendation for vaccination (89 percent and 87 percent respectively).

“The majority of horses are infected with EHV in the first few years of life,” said Zoetis vet Wendy Talbot. “Renewed shedding, especially during times of stress, results in new outbreaks and clinical cases. Vaccination against EHV is important because it helps tip the balance in favour of the horse’s immune system. It reduces viral shedding, the severity of respiratory disease and the frequency of abortion. As with flu, rigorous biosecurity is also imperative to help minimise the risks of EHV spreading.”

Almost all vet and horse owner survey participants said they wanted more educational and awareness information on EHV to be made readily available. In response a group of leading equine vets have produced a roundtable discussion document on EHV with a central recommendation to vaccinate:

In addition, Zoetis, in conjunction with Professor Josh Slater, has produced a series of four educational videos for horse owners at horsedialog
and a CPD video for vets on our youtube channel

“It’s in every horse owner’s interests to understand and take action against EHV, to minimise the risks to our horses,” said Dr Philip Ivens, Equine Internal Medicine Specialist at Buckingham Equine Vets and member of the EHV Roundtable discussion group. “EHV has potentially serious health, performance and financial implications across every sector of the equestrian industry but by making sure the disease is on everyone’s radar we can help to prevent it.”

Emmeline Hannelly, BHS Welfare Education Manager said: “The awareness and interest in equine contagious diseases has increased in the equine community following the equine influenza outbreak. As reflected in the survey results, it’s encouraging that a high proportion of horse owners want to find out further information and understand the potential risk of EHV to their horses. The BHS supports the educational materials produced by Zoetis to inform owners about the disease, and recommendation from vets to vaccinate.”

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