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Tennessee state veterinarian warns of equine influenza

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's state veterinarian is warning horse owners to take precautions after the equine influenza virus was diagnosed in several horses returning from out-of-state events.

According to the state Agriculture Department, equine influenza is highly contagious. The virus is spread by contaminated stable equipment and infected, coughing horses.

Interim State Veterinarian Doug Balthaser says in news release, "it is much easier for horse owners to take preventive measures than to provide treatment."

Balthaser recommends maintaining good hygiene with stable equipment and vaccinating horses. He also recommends isolating newly introduced horses or those returning from events for two weeks.

Symptoms of equine influenza may include fever, nasal discharge, cough, loss of appetite and weakness. Sick horses cannot directly infect people with equine influenza.