A deadly virus. It’s a phrase we’ve grown all too accustomed to hearing since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world over one year ago. Unfortunately, in one region of Ontario, another viral outbreak has caused alarm and death: neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) also known as Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM).

As previously reported here, two horses at a private facility in the Regional Municipality of Halton had tested positive for neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) as the result of an investigation into three other horses at the facility which had been euthanized between Jan. 29-Feb. 3 after displaying severe incoordination and inability to rise, symptoms common to EHV-1.

The farm in question was Vanbrook Equestrian in Acton, which has since launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for the ongoing veterinary costs associated with constant testing and treatment of infected and quarantined animals at their farm. The original target was $15,000, but thanks to the generosity and concern of the horse community, as of this writing it has surpassed that goal and currently stands at $17,715.

The Vanbrook team, consisting of of owner/head coach Julie Van Wieren and barn manager Brittany Simmons, wrote this message on the page for potential donors to understand where the money will go. “This unexpected virus and the attributed costs have truly emphasized the impact and financial loss due to COVID-19. We have gone through a great deal of cleaning supplies and materials to sanitize the barn thoroughly and have incurred significant costs for the onsite vet. Each test swab costs $150 and treatment is $600-$800 per horse, depending on size.

“Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the neurological mutation of EHV-1, but there is a treatment. With heavy hearts, we are asking for your help by donation to ensure the horses receive their tests and the best care possible during this extremely difficult time. Your contribution will go towards preventative measures and ongoing horse care.”

To cope with the outbreak, Vanbrook has undertaken a variety of precautions and protocols including the scrubbing and sanitizing of the barn and stalls with antiseptic and disinfectants by a group of volunteers, horse’s temperatures are checked regularly, and biosecurity protocols have been implemented while the farm is under voluntary quarantine.

The devastation this outbreak has caused the Vanbrook team and the horse’s owners cannot be measured. But raising funds to pay for the costs of managing the outbreak is one way to try and do something positive.