Bay harnessed horse standing in the stall

Virkon S protects against Equine Herpes

EVH-1 Equine Herpes: a real risk to horses and foals
Life threatening for horses, the EHV-1 strain of Equine Herpes is spreading across Europe. Nevertheless, by implementing biosecurity disinfection procedures using a proven effective disinfectant like Virkon S™, horse owners can do a lot to help protect their animals.

EHV-1: an aggressive strain

The latest wave of Equine Herpes infections has already led to the deaths of numerous horses. February’s CES horse show in Valencia, Spain, resulted in 700 infections. It is considered the starting point. From there, the EHV-1 strain of the virus, which is harmless to humans, has reached other European countries, including Germany. 

Equine herpes (EHV) is widespread among horses, with about 80 percent of animals carrying the pathogen. But not all EHVs are the same. The pathogen currently posing the highest risk is the aggressive EHV-1 viral strain.

Equine herpes: a disease with serious consequences

An outbreak of Equine Herpes is indicated by the following symptoms:
 
  • fever,
  • fatigue,
  • cough,
  • nasal discharge.

An EHV-1 infection can lead to severe disease:

  • late abortions in pregnant mares or foals that die shortly after birth,
  • neurological consequences such as paralysis resulting from inflammation of the spinal cord. The prospects for recovery are often poor.
  • Inflammation of the upper respiratory tract often occurs, but usually heals after two to five weeks.

Where infections are severe, horses may have to be put down. 

How is Equine Herpes transmitted?

Equine Herpes virus can be spread via a variety of routes. Horses can infect each other through direct contact and aerial transmission. Contaminated stable block surfaces, horse boxes, vehicles and movable equipment can spread the virus. People can introduce the disease to surfaces and equipment via contaminated clothing, footwear, or unwashed hands.  To prevent this risk, it is highly advisable to carry out biosecurity cleaning and disinfection using a veterinary disinfectant with proven efficacy against animal pathogens.

Virkon™ S broad spectrum disinfectant, from LANXESS, has been independently proven to be highly effective against numerous horse disease-causing pathogens including the deadly EHV-1 strain of Equine Herpes. It offers the user a flexible application solution. It can be used to disinfect surfaces, equipment, feeders, drinkers, vehicles, footwear etc.

Infected horses can transmit the EHV-1 virus to one another aerially through coughing and sneezing. Sick horses should be isolated from others. As a precaution, a fine mist of Virkon™ S disinfectant solution (1:200 dilution) sprayed into the stable on a daily basis can help reduce pathogen pressure. 

Virkon™ S can also be used as a skin disinfectant to help reduce the skin challenge posed by organisms responsible for Ringworm, Mud Fever and Strangles.
Annika van Aaken with her horse LotusFINIA FISCHER PHOTOGRAPHIE
Dr. Anika van Aaken, Head of APAC Application Development Center, LANXESS

“As a horse owner, I keep a sharp eye out for EHV-1! But thankfully equine herpes is well understood and there’s a LANXESS disinfectant that helps to protect horses against this highly contagious virus.” 

Hygiene is the best protection

Horses can be vaccinated against herpes. In Germany vaccination is voluntary and recommended by the German Equestrian Association and the German Veterinary Medicine´s Vaccine Committee. 

Enrica Zumnorde-Mertens, Veterinarian
Enrica Zumnorde-Mertens, vet, German Equestrian Federation
"Vaccination cannot reliably prevent a horse from developing EHV-1. However, vaccination results in infected horses excreting less of the virus, thus decreasing the risk of transmission."

What is Virkon™ S and how is it used? 

  • Virkon™ S is a powerful disinfectant that is proven effective against over 500 viruses, bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. 
  • Virkon™ S is dissolved in water for application.
  • Virkon™ S is suitable for disinfecting surfaces, tools, footwear and vehicles daily.
  • Virkon™ S has been on the market for over 35 years. Virkon™ S’ oxygen-based chemistry contains simple inorganic salts and organic acids. The active ingredient decomposes to form the naturally occurring substances potassium salts and oxygen. The major organic components are classified as readily biodegradable, according to OECD and EU test methods.
 
Anneliese Bischof, MPP, 2019
Anneliese Bischof, Business Director Disinfection, LANXESS

“When it comes to animal husbandry, effective biosecurity requires the use of tried and tested veterinary disinfectants. Regular disinfection is essential, in part because vaccinations do not provide complete protection.”

Virkon S effective against Equine Herpes

People who own, ride, groom, or simply enjoy handling horses can do a lot to protect their animal’s health by disinfecting its stall at regular intervals. This is especially true when a horse is put into another stall. How to protect your horse at a glance:

  • Remove organic material such as mud, soiled bedding and grooming detritus from the box beforehand.
  • Disinfect all surfaces with VirkonTM S using a knapsack sprayer, pressure washer or watering can (dilution: 1:100), then allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Allow all surfaces to dry before putting in new bedding.
  • Do not forget to disinfect troughs, feeders, bridles, and other equipment with VirkonTM S (diluted with water at a rate of 1:100).
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow to dry. 
  • Replace equipment if the virus is already present!
  • If the box is clean, add fresh bedding, disinfect equipment, and wash your hands!
  • To avoid passing on pathogens, do not share equipment between horses. 
  • When a new horse joins the stable, it should be isolated for a while and the others monitored for signs of infection. 

Biosecurity: how to keep your stable healthy 

  • Planning and implementation: Write out a cleaning and disinfection routine describing what needs to be cleaned and when. Ensure everyone is onboard. 
  • Hygiene: Boots need to be disinfected and hands washed.
  • Equipment: Make sure your horse has its own equipment. Shared drinking troughs and feeding buckets pose a risk of infection.
  • Supplies: Ensure you wear protective clothing such as disposable coveralls and shoe covers while spraying broad-spectrum disinfectants like Virkon™ S.
  • Information: Educate visitors about your key hygiene rules. There should be only one visitor entrance to the yard and the parking area positioned away the from stables and paddocks. 
 

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