Respiratory disease in foals and the epizootiology of equine herpesvirus type 2 infection

Respiratory disease in foals and the epizootiology of equine herpesvirus type 2 infection
Peer reviewed


The elpizootiology of equine herpesvirus type 2 (EHV-2) infection was investigated in Thoroughbred foals on a stud farm which in previous years had suffered economic loss due to respiratory disease. Sixteen pairs of foals and their dams were selected for this study and all of the foals became infected with EHV-2 by two to four months of age. These animals responded serologically to the virus infection as detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). EHV-2 infection persisted in these foals for two to six months with constant or intermittent virus recovery. This persistent infection stimulated continuous production of antibodies against EHV-2. As soon as the antibody levels reached their peak at five to six months, the isolation rate of EHV-2 from the nasal cavity of these animals decreased, and eventually by nine months of age virus could no longer be recovered. Respiratory disease was observed in ten of the 16 foals; and two severely affected animals died at two months of age. EHV-2 was isolated from both foals at ante and/or post mortem examination. It is postulated that EHV-2, either as an initiating agent or by means of immnunosuppression, caused the respiratory disease observed in these foals.

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