MERCED, Calif. An outbreak of a highly contagious and possibly fatal virus in horses that started at the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Odgen, Utah, has claimed the life of at least one horse in California, one in Utah and sickened at least four in Stanislaus County, Calif.
The equine herpes-1 infection showed up first at the Utah event, held between April 30 and May 8. One of the big money-winners at the show, a 7-year-old horse was diagnosed May 9 with the virus in Colorado. There were 500 horses at the event, with at least two positive cases and one death. There were 54 competitors from California.
Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said one horse in California has been euthanized, at a cutting horse event on May 13 in Bakersfield held at the Kern County Fairgrounds. The horse had been to the Utah event also and had severe neurological signs.
"This is still all unfolding. There wasn't a confirmed case of this virus in California until Monday, and now we have 10," Lyle said Tuesday afternoon
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