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Monday, May 23, 2011

Arkansas Rodeo Checks Horses For Herpes Virus

Arkansas Rodeo Checks Horses For Herpes Virus

FORT SMITH, Ark. -- An outbreak of equine herpes virus-1 has been detected in horses. The virus is believed to have originated at the National Cutting Horse Association national championship in Ogden, Utah. Since the virus has spread, over 30 horses have been quarantined and countless rodeos have been cancelled.

Horse handler Ralph Phillips, from Henrietta, Okla, had heard of the recent outbreak but still came to Arkansas to compete in an upcoming rodeo.

"It effects the nervous system and I know your horse can die from it," Ralph Phillips said.

Phillips said it makes him nervous but he's been following directions from his veterinarian.

"We're basically sanitizing everything with bleach and making sure all of our horses have all of their paperwork up to date," Phillips said.

Horses who have contracted the virus tend to have symptoms of decreased coordination, urine spotting, a fever above 102 degrees and weakness in the limbs.

The Old Fort Days Frontier Rodeo in Fort Smith is gearing up for its events. Horse handlers have been bringing in trucks of horses from various states to compete. The rodeo commission said they have been taking extra precaution to make sure the virus doesn't enter.

"We felt like after the advice from the state veterinarian's department that we could go out and have this event and we're trying to take every precaution we can to make sure there's not an issue," said Calvin Evans of Old Fort Days Frontier.

Every time a horse comes into the stable area, a veterinarian is on hand to check all of its medical paperwork and to look for signs of the illness.

The Old Fort Days Rodeo Commission is informing all horse handlers to not share equipment and to avoid nose-to-nose or close contact with other horses.

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