Horses quarantined after exposed to equine herpes virus

Virus is spread from horse to horse by coughing and sneezing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There is an outbreak of the herpes virus that is impacting horses across the state of Florida.

Colleen Acosta is waiting for word that she can return home to Texas. A few weeks ago while at a horse show in Ocala, Acosta's horses were exposed to the equine herpes virus (EHV-1).

"Went to Ocala to show for two weeks, everybody had a great time, came here for a little vacation," said Acosta.

Acosta received word after she was home in Dallas that her horses were exposed to equine herpes. Now, the horses are being quarantined because of their exposure to herpes.

"I was very scared for them, worried," said Acosta. "My first reaction was get back here and check on everybody to make sure they looked okay and start taking temperatures, make sure they are okay."

Humans are not affected by equine herpes, but contact with one horse to another can spread the disease. Horse owners are taking precautions across the state of Florida to make sure their equines don't catch the virus.

"If a horse sneezes, it can travel up to 35 feet," said veterinarian Peggy Fuller.

Fuller said she knows about the outbreak, how it spreads and how serious it can be. She also has some advice for horse owners.

Fuller told Channel 4 Wednesday night that owners who are thinking about heading to a show in the near future and are planning to travel, should probably reconsider.

"Lots of people are staying home, lots of shows cancelled," said Fuller. "Quarantine period should be over on March 14, unless there are more new cases."

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it is not taking any chances.

There were a total of six horses infected with the highly contagious virus, which is spread from horse to horse by coughing and sneezing.

"It's very inconvenient, for a lot of people in the industry," said Acosta. "Doesn't only affect me, it affects a lot more people, and it will affect them for a while."

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