Western states, Canada warned of fatal horse virus

By the Associated Press | May 17, 2011 | 11:14 AM EDT

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Agriculture officials say horses in Canada and at least four Western states have contracted a fatal equine virus after attending a national competition in Utah.

An Idaho State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman told the Post Register that two cutting horses from Idaho have died from what appears to be Equine Herpes Virus-1.

So far, authorities believe it has infected horses in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, California and Canada. But Idaho state veterinarian Bill Barton says veterinarians across the country are being notified that animals in their states could be impacted as well.

Barton says the virus is easily spread because it can be airborne and transmitted by touch or through sharing brushes, bits or other equipment, but it doesn't pose a risk to humans. Llamas and alpacas can also be infected.