Gamma herpes viruses in race horses

Last changed: 26 February 2014

Clinical significance of gamma herpes viruses EHV-2 &5 in health and athletic performance in race horses

Within the first year of life most horses become infected with the gamma equine herpes viruses 2 and 5. These persist for the life of the horse and can be reactivated or shed in stress or illness. While initially thought as innocuous, there is growing evidence that these too can cause low grade respiratory disease or even severe lung damage. Such mild disease in horses invariably goes undiagnosed and can be a source of poor athletic performance, or when causing signs of fever, inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Factors linked to appearance of disease and severity appear to be related to interactions between the host and virus, and possibly to variations in virulence in widely diverse strains of EHV-2.

This project will examine horses at high risk for herpes viral reactivation, and assess whether there are factors associated with reactivation that are reflected in altered health or decreased athletic performance.

Financier: Stiftelsen Häst forskning (Jean-Francois Valarcher, PI)
Jean-Francois Valarcher (PI) Karl Ståhl, Louise Treberg Bengtsson, Johanna Penell, Helena Back (doktorande)
Collaborator: SVA, Uppsala Universitet (Johanna Penell)