- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) - Veterinarians euthanized a horse from Clay County at the Minnesota 4-H Horse Show after it displayed symptoms consistent with a potentially deadly virus, officials said Saturday.

The horse began showing neurological distress Friday morning and was euthanized that evening, University of Minnesota Extension 4-H program spokeswoman Aimee Viniard-Weideman said.

Officials won’t know what caused the horse’s decline until test results come back next week, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/1MyqzH1 ). But one possibility is that the horse had EHV-1, a sometimes deadly virus that spreads easily among horses - particularly when they’re gathered in large numbers.

About 640 horses were registered for the show, which opened Thursday and runs through Monday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

“Without a confirmed case, we’re just letting people know it’s a possibility,” Viniard-Weideman said. “What’s vital is that we keep participants informed, so they can decide what’s best for them and their horses.”

Viniard-Weideman said people already at the show were less likely to withdraw, since the potential for exposure had already occurred, than participants who had not yet arrived and could cancel their trips.

The show’s Grand Entry and drill team event were cancelled because they involve many horses gathering in one spot.

Participants already at the show were encouraged to take their horse’s temperatures twice daily and report any unusual behavior, such as unsteadiness or a lack of focus, to the on-site veterinarian. After the show, Viniard-Weideman said, horses should be quarantined for three weeks.

Last March, seven horses from the Twin Cities metro area displayed symptoms of EHV-1. Authorities said those horses might have contracted the virus at a barrel racing event.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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