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Deadly horse herpes hits AZ before Tucson Rodeo

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 07:50:33-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A deadly horse herpes outbreak has hit Arizona and has some people worried about the impact on the upcoming Tucson Rodeo as hundreds of horses come to the Old Pueblo from around the country. 
One mare had to be euthanized and two other horses quarantined at Turf Paradise, a Phoenix racetrack. They came from an infected track in New Mexico and test results for the euthanized mare were positive for horse herpes, or EHV. 
"It's very fast, it's very deadly," Dr. Christine Staten with Adobe Veterinary Center in Tucson said of EHV. "The signs that we see are wobbling, a fever, drooling, sometimes they're dribbling urine, they're staggering around their pen."
EHV is not sexually transmitted, but is instead passed from horse to horse through nasal discharge. Humans cannot be infected, but they can spread EHV from one horse to another. 
However, Dr. Staten said the outbreak is believed to be contained at the affected tracks.
"There is absolutely no legitimate concern about bringing horses into this state or having horse leave this state," said Dr. Staten. "The only precaution we need to be taking is to be on alert. I think we need to be aware if there are cases that breach the boundaries of Turf Paradise, then we will start to enact plans to contain and quarantine the disease further."
Tucson Rodeo General Manager Gary Williams said they already have plans in place in case the virus does spread. That includes quarantine pens, checking health papers, and separating water and feed buckets.
But right now, the Tucson Rodeo is scheduled to begin as planned on February 20th with no extra precautions in place against EHV.