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High school rodeo in Clark County canceled after disease outbreak hits horses

A high school rodeo in the Clark County community of Overton this weekend has been called off after an outbreak of two contagious illnesses affecting horses.

The Moapa Valley Junior High and High School Rodeo Club was slated to host its first competition in seven years starting Friday, but veterinarian J.J. Goicoechea from the Nevada Department of Agriculture recommended against holding the event until the outbreak is under control.

Troy Christensen, one of directors of the rodeo club, confirmed that the competition has been postponed.

Agriculture officials said “dozens” of horses are believed to be infected, including several animals that took part in a high school rodeo in Boulder City on Feb. 18 and are now showing signs of disease.

The illnesses are equine herpes virus type 4 and Streptococcus equi bacterial infection, also known as equine distemper or strangles. Though treatable, both illnesses are highly contagious and potentially fatal in horses.

“Horses that were exposed last weekend may not exhibit clinical signs for several weeks, and we run the risk of exposing additional horses at the rodeo this weekend,” Goicoechea said in a written statement. “We may be issuing quarantine orders once confirmed. Our primary focus is stopping the spread and protecting our equine population.”

Under state law, any animal owner or practicing veterinarian is required to report any animal infected with a regulated disease to the state quarantine officer, in this case Agriculture Director Jim Barbee.

A list of reportable diseases can be found at agri.nv.gov.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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