Horse events across the state are being canceled as a precaution to prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease that has been confirmed in three horses in Washington.

Although it cannot be contracted by humans, the disease, Equine Herpes Virus-1, is easily spread among horses, alpacas, and llamas. It can be airborne and transmitted by touch or by sharing feed, brushes, bits and other equipment.One infected horse was diagnosed at Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman diagnosed one infected horse which has already been released and is in isolation. The other two cases have been isolated in Thurston and Chelan counties.

Besides these three confirmed cases, blood samples of three more horses are currently being tested.

The six horses are said to have either been in attendance or in contact with horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association event early this month in Utah, where the disease initially spread. Oregon, Texas, California, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado have also confirmed cases of horses being diagnosed with the disease.

Equine Herpes Virus-1 is one of the most severe herpes virus found in horses. The potentially fatal virus can lead to respiratory illness, neurological problems, paralysis and miscarriage in pregnant mares.

[Seattle PI]