I have a nice colt foaled 3/7/05 who is in a barn where we have had a outbreak of EVA. My colt is not sexually active but has all his plumbing and really seems to know what it's for. He is showing signs of having the virus in that his legs are stocked up and he just isn't himself but he hasn't gone off his feed etc. Was told by my vet's office to give him bute twice daily until his legs look better and to run cold water on them. Now that I'm reading more about this on the web. Should I worry about him more than this? I certainly don't want to have him turn out to be a carrier stallion but don't know how old they have to be to worry about this. What kinds of tests will he have to have to deterimine this? Too bad no one has ever told me about this in my 26 years of having horses and then to find there is a vaccine for it. great. :-(
Unfortunately there is probably little you can do at this point if he is indeed currently infected with the virus
The risks of him becoming a "shedder" if he is infected with the disease commence with his starting to produce testosterone - in other words any time from about 9 months of age onwards. i.e. he is at risk of becoming a "shedder". You will only be able to determine if he is harbouring the virus once he has apparently gone through the active stages of the disease by evaluating his semen for presence of the virus.
There is an excellent article by Dr. Peter Timoney of the Gluck Center (who is regarded as the Guru of EVA) entitled "Equine Viral Arteritis: Is the Disease a Cause for Industry Concern?" - note however before clicking on that link that it is a big file (12 Meg) and in Adobe .pdf format. It is well worth the wait though if you have a slow connection.
If it's any consolation, the vaccine supply in the USA is currently very restricted, with it being unavailable in many areas as there simply isn't enough. This situation has not been helped, I am sure, by the recent outbreaks in the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Quarter Horse industries and the subsequent demand.
Don't feel alone in your lack of knowledge of this disease. It is a remarkably "unknown" issue. Each week at our short courses we cover it, and each week I have much if not most of the class saying they knew nothing about it...
How does this impact him as a possible breeding animal at some point down the road. Is it something that would make me take a long hard look at gelding him? He is 17 months old so is not going to be breeding mares for a year or so at least I wasn't really wanting to go thru having him trained to a phantom etc this early on so if he has a blood test later this year or early next year would that be enought to give us an idea or would we have to actually collect him and test his semen to decide. If so that brings up another "can of worms" where do I send him to be tested where he isn't going to make someone else sick. If he sheds it in semen is he still able to be shown or would he be at risk of exposing other horses at an event since they voide semen in their urine when not breeding.
He is an Arabian, I know what it's like to say your stallion is a carrier of a disease. SCID was/is an awful thing for my breed. Thankfully I know he is SCID Clear since both of his parents are. But I also know the phobias that go along with it. I own his mother and she lives at another facility and I am thinking I need to stay away from there until it's gone thru this barn so I don't accidently carry it to the pasture where she lives.
If he does turn out to be a shedder of the virus in his semen, then mares to be bred to him will have to undergo a vaccination protocol or be confirmed as having antibody presence to the virus before being bred. There are stallions out there that are shedders and require this protocol, so it's not the kiss of death, but it could be a problem with some mare owners as you note.
You can have a blood test performed to evaluate the stallion for the presence of antibodies to the virus (incidentally, the disease is "EVA" whereas the virus is "equine arteritis virus" or "EAV"), and if those antibodies are found then the chances of shedding are that much greater. We recommend that EVERY stallion that has not been vaccinated be tested at the beginning of each breeding season regardless.
As far as the possibility of shedding outside a sexual situation, that would be unlikely. The virus is harboured in the secondary sex glands, so it is with the release of secondary sex gland secretions (seminal plasma and gel) that you would see the virus shed, rather than with the daily sperm release. It is however something that you should - ethically - bring to the collection facilities attention as during the collection process the breeding mount, tease mares, and the AV etc. may become contaminated.
The EAV is not particularly durable outside the animal, so the chances of transmission by you to your mare or animals at the other facility are remote - but "never say never....
Thank you for the information. I've waited almost 30 years to have a colt this nice it is a real shame that this is not something that is more widely known about especially if it can be controlled with a vaccine. I guess I'll have him tested later this fall with his routine vaccinations and see what we find. Just because he as the disease now doesn't mean for sure that he will carry it just that he has a higher probability? I'm not trying to get my hopes up or act like it isn't a big deal. I'm really upset about this. A lot of planning went into this colt. It sounds like from what goes around the barn where they live that the virius came to us from a horse that had been to a show where a horse had been that had been exposed to it at the very collection facility where my colt would go to be tested. It apparently came to them in a batch of shipped semen. I wouldn't want to put anyone thru that! There are over 70 horses at the barn where mine live and the outbreak just started about 10 days ago. They say it will go thru the entire barn now. The worst part to me there are only two stallions in the barn, and I have one of them. Ours isn't the only barn either sounds like quite a few in the area are going thru the same thing.
I felt bad earlier this year that my mare that lives at the same barn as the colt didn't get in foal as she had an an-ovulatory follicle (April still isn't cycling again) but now I'm happy cause I'm not sitting around worrying that she's going to loose an expensive baby. By next spring it should have passed I hope.
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