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Horse Virus Outbreak Brings Economic Concerns

Photo by Kirk Siegler
One horse has been euthanized, and two others sick at this quarantined horse training facility near Fort Lupton.

A deadly horse virus outbreak has caused the cancelations of numerous shows and competitions around the country – including in Colorado.  So far, there have been six confirmed cases of the Equine Herpes Virus-1 virus in Colorado horses, and agriculture officials have implemented new travel requirements for horses entering the state.

EHV-1 poses no threat to people, but it’s easily spread among horses and llamas, said State Veterinarian

Keith Roehr.

"The disease can be spread horse to horse," Roehr said. "We also know that the disease can travel from hand to hand, from boots, on equipment, so it can be spread indirectly."

At her now quarantined training facility outside of Fort Lupton, Becca Francis had to euthanize one of her horses that attended a competition in Utah where the outbreak is believed to have started.  Two more are sick with the disease.

"It’s a worry for sure," Francis said.  "But the hard thing is, it doesn’t only affect the trainers or the stables or the horse owners, it effects everybody in the horse industry because they’re cancelling horse shows."

It’s costing Francis hundreds of dollars a day to treat the rest of her operation's horses to ensure they don’t also contract EHV-1.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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