Minnesota horse farm under quarantine after deadly EHM infects foal

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) — A farm in Clay County, in northwestern Minnesota, is now under quarantine for a 21-day period after a young Quarter horse foal came down with a highly contagious disease and had to be euthanized.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said Monday that post-mortem tests confirmed that Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) had infected the six-week-old foal.  The state has since put its EHM Control Plan into effect in the immediate area.

Six other horses on that farm near Fargo-Moorhead are being monitored and nearby farms are being urged to step up their biosecurity protocols.  North Dakota animal health officials have already reported one case of EHM there earlier in 2019.

“It’s spread by direct contact with an infected horse,” said Michael Crusan, Communications Director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.  “It could even be a brush used on an infected animal, then used later at a different location on another horse.”

EHM is most commonly spread from horse to horse by nose-to-nose contact, but it can also be spread by feed and water buckets or a person’s hands and clothing.

“Horse owners should take this opportunity to review their biosecurity protocols, both on the farm and when traveling, to ensure they are doing their best to protect their horses and Minnesota’s equine community from communicable and contagious diseases like EHM,” said Dr. Courtney Wheeler, the agency’s Equine Program Director.

Crusan said that on July 15, the veterinarian examining the sick foal at the Clay County farm noticed worsening neurologic symptoms–a loosely hanging lower lip, biting at his front legs, stumbling, circling and an inability to rise on his own.  All horses exposed to the foal are being monitored.

Crusan said the Board of Animal Health is prevented by law from publicly identifying the farm, other than to report which county it is located in.  Clay County stretches just east of Moorhead, including the communities of Barnesville, Dilworth, Glyndon, Hawley and Sabin.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He's a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine. After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester. Email Noel at nsederstrom@kttc.com

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