EHV-1 scare hits too close to home

Officials reacted quickly to a rare disease at the Minnesota 4-H State Horse Show.

Maddie Eaton

Asort of mass panic ensued Friday when exhibitors were called for a mandatory meeting at the annual Minnesota 4-H State Horse Show. As an exhibitor myself, I can say that I was quite confused by this request. I had participated in this exact horse show on five other occasions, but never before had we been required to attend a meeting during the show. 
At the meeting, a veterinarian explained how, earlier that evening, a horse had been euthanized due to acute onset neurological symptoms. Because of the setting, officials were concerned that it may have been a case of EHV-1, a contagious and deadly equine disease. 
While many parents and exhibitors showed clear distress and anger toward this issue, I feel that officials handled the situation very appropriately. Not only did they explain the issue at hand in depth, but they also opened up the floor to a public discussion. All exhibitors were required to take their horse’s temperature twice a day for the duration of
the show — and if they still felt the risk was too high, they were permitted to leave at any time. 
The areas where the infected horse was present were sterilized, and exhibitors were assured that the animal had been nowhere other than her stall throughout the day. Due to the contagious nature of this disease, I felt that this extra precaution was a smart addition to the disease prevention strategy. 
Overall, I truly feel that the organization did a stellar job dealing with the situation at hand. While it is unfortunate that some participants were unable to show, ultimately, the safety of our equine partners is much more important than any competition.