Las Vegas horse show canceled after outbreak of equine disease

South Point has canceled this week’s “Let It Ride” rodeo events because of safety concerns raised by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

A department veterinarian imposed a quarantine on three Clark County horse facilities after three horses were diagnosed with equine herpes virus. The EHV-1 virus is a reportable disease, which means veterinarians must disclose cases to the state, the department said Friday.

The name of the facilities placed under quarantine will not be released under state law, which says that details on animal disease reports must be confidential unless there is a public health risk. Humans can spread the illness between horses, but are not susceptible themselves.

South Point announced Monday that the team penning and ranch sorting events planned Friday to Sunday were canceled.

“After working closely with the state veterinarian, we have decided to cancel this week’s equestrian event to ensure the safety of our equine guests,” Steve Stallworth, the Arena and Equestrian Center general manager, said in a statement Monday night. “We will continue to work with them to make sure the facility is sanitized and safe for upcoming events.”

The agriculture department said that horses were likely exposed to the virus at the Feb. 22-24 Nevada State Junior Rodeo in Pahrump.

Symptoms of EHV-1 include fever, cough and runny nose, the department said. The disease has an incubation period of four to seven days, but may take up to 14 days to manifest.

Agriculture department veterinarian Dr. JJ Goicoechea said in the release that “Equine Herpes Virus-1 can cause respiratory disease in young horses, abortions in pregnant mares and neurologic disease in older horses.”

He recommended that all equestrian events in Southern Nevada this week be postponed due to the outbreak, a department spokeswoman said.

In February, Goicoechea urged horse owners to travel with caution after two cases of an infection known as “strangles” or equine distemper were discovered. Another facility in Clark County was quarantined for 21 days after those cases were reported.

Goicoechea said in the release that practicing “biosecurity” is the best way to minimize the risk of spreading disease. Biosecurity means avoiding places or activities that might lead to an infectious disease transferring between animals. The Agriculture Department recommends not sharing equipment between horses and avoiding common areas like hitching rails and wash racks.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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