Equine herpesvirus-1 is associated with several disease syndromes including abortion, neonatal septicemia, upper respiratory tract disease and a neuropathogenic form known as equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM). EHM is not a new disease and is reported sporadically throughout the world. There is recent concern, however, over emergence of a mutant strain of the virus (nEHV-1) that is more virulent in its ability to cause the neuropathogenic form of EHV-1 disease1. This increased virulence has been expressed in outbreaks of EHM in several countries with a higher than previously reported incidence of morbidity and mortality. A concise description of equine herpesvirus-1 disease, including the neuropathogenic form, recently appeared in Alberta Agriculture's Animal Health Forum, Vol. 13, Issue 1, February, 20082.
Because of the concern over the potential to see this disease in Alberta horses, both on farms and at events where horses congregate, the information in the listing below is provided to assist practitioners with accessing rapid and effective diagnostic laboratory help in the event they suspect this disease. This listing also appears on the AVMA website on the home page after member log in3. The listing is self-explanatory, but if questions or concerns arise, do not hesitate to call the contact people.
EHV-1 diagnostics: May 2009
Alberta information added December 2011
Idexx Code EQHVD (Equine Herpes Type 1-Type 4 real-time PCR).
Sample: nasal swab (sterile, plastic stemmed swab placed in a sterile red top tube- NO culture media) OR whole EDTA blood (7 mL purple top tube). Can also submit tissue samples from abortions/mortalities (cerebrospinal fluid, brain/spinal cord, lung, liver, thymus, spleen, adrenal gland, placenta). Can distinguish between EHV-1 and 4, as well as nEHV-1.
Cost: $85.95 per sample (TAT 1 to 3 days).
- Idexx code EHV1/4.
- Paired sera. Test can differentiate EHV-1 and EHV-4, but not nEHV-1. Titers may not be high, even in acute cases.
- Cost: $27.95 per test (TAT 7 to 14 days).
Idexx customer service centre at 780-437-8808 to redirect to equine expert.
Edmonton: 8131 Roper Road, Edmonton, AB T6E 6S4
Calgary: Unit 19, 5080 - 12A Street SE, Calgary, AB, T2G 5K9
Vet Connect (on-line) submission or call lab for submission forms.
Variable by lab.
Nasal swab*, buffy coat (20 ml EDTA blood), tissue (Neuro cases: brain/spinal cord; Respiratory cases: lung; Abortions: lung, liver, thymus, spleen, adrenal glands, placenta).
Differentiates EHV-1 from nEHV-1; Cost $65.00 per test (sample); gives a +/- answer and differentiates the strain in the same test; TAT 1 to 3 days after received
On paired sera, test does not differentiate EHV-1 from EHV-4, TAT 7 to 14 days
Animal Health Laboratory
Laboratory Services Division
University of Guelph
Door P2 Bldg 49, McIntosh Lane
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
https://www.uoguelph.ca/ahl/submissions/submission-forms – Indicate in the history that you would like EHV-1 real-time PCR.
8:15 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday
Nasal swab*, buffy coat, fresh lung, fresh brain/spinal cord. Cost $37.50 out of province.
Will differentiate EHV-1 from nEHV-1 and can sequence virus if needed.
For EHV-1 only
BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Animal Health Centre
1767 Angus Campbell Road
Abbotsford, BC V3G 2M3
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/animals-and-crops/animal-health – then click Mammalian Submission Form (PDF)
8:30 am to noon, and 1 to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday
Live horse: nasal swab. Recently dead horse: nasal swab or small piece of nasal mucosa.
Test will differentiate EHV-1 from 4; PCR capability to distinguish nEHV-1 currently done as an experimental diagnostic test.
Also offer an equine respiratory PCR panel (EHV-1, EHV-4, EIV, Strep equi) for $85.00; use culturette swabs as for bacteriology, 2 per horse.
Does not differentiate EHV-1 from EHV-4
Prairie Diagnostic Services
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4
http://www.pdsinc.ca/ – then click Forms
8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday
Nasal or conjunctival swab*, lung, spinal cord, spinal fluid. Test will differentiate EHV-1 from 4; sequencing needed to know if EHV-1 is nEHV-1. Cost $32.00; TAT 1 to 2 days.
Does not differentiate EHV-1 from EHV-4
Veterinary Diagnostic Services
545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5S6
Equine Submission Form
8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday
EHV-1 diagnostics notes
In a live horse, test and sample of choice is PCR on a nasal swab or buffy coat sample (20 ml EDTA blood).
*For nasal swabs, Starplex Multitrans® Collection and Transport System swabs work well. Can also use a plastic handled untreated absorbent cotton swab broken off and put in a tube with 1/2 ml phosphate buffered saline or saline. Swab nasal mucosa very vigorously to get cells, not just nasal mucous and debris. Do not use bacteriological swabs with charcoal or gel-type preservatives. Do not use wooden handled swabs.
Swabs (Starplex Multitrans) available from WDDC Cat. No. 115798 in a 5 pack for $12.90.
Ship all samples chilled on ice packs for overnight arrival. In general, do not ship for arrival on holidays or weekends.
2 Patel J. Disease Impact: Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy. Animal Health Forum, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Food Safety Division, Vol. 13(1): 5 - 6; February 2008.