Horse owners and organizations nationwide are watching anxiously and some are shutting down shows and other events in an effort to keep a deadly horse virus outbreak that began in Utah from spreading beyond a handful of Western states and Canada.
So far, at least 17 horses in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington and Canada have been infected with the highly contagious Equine Herpes Virus-1, and at least three have died. The disease poses no threat to people but is easily spread among horses, alpacas and llamas because it can be airborne and transmitted by touch or by sharing feed, brushes, bits and other equipment.
The infected horses were among roughly 400 that attended the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier this month.
Now, officials in several states are quarantining infected animals and asking owners of other horses that were at the event to closely monitor the animals for symptoms. Organizers also are cancelling horse shows and classes in Texas, Utah and elsewhere in an effort to stem the disease's spread.
The outbreak has horse owners across the West worried, said Preston Skaar, president of the Idaho Cutting Horse Association.