Keratoconjunctivitis in a group of Icelandic horses with suspected γ-herpesvirus involvement

J. O. Rushton, J. Kolodziejek, B. Nell, H. Weissenböck, N. Nowotny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY: The role of equid γ-herpesviruses on ocular surface diseases has been disputed, because the diagnosis is usually based on clinical symptoms and detection of viral DNA from samples obtained from live animals.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the clinical course, results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, in situ hybridisation, cell culture and pathohistological findings of select cases in a presumed outbreak of herpesvirus infection in a group of 15 Icelandic horses.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series.

METHODS: Pooled ocular and nasal swabs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of horses diagnosed clinically with herpesvirus-associated keratoconjunctivitis were analysed for presence of equine herpesviruses (EHV)-2 and EHV-5 nucleic acid using real-time PCR. Necropsy specimens from one horse, subjected to euthanasia due to deterioration of clinical symptoms were examined histopathologically, and analysed for presence of EHV-2 and EHV-5 nucleic acid using real-time PCR. In situ hybridisation and cell culture of select samples were performed.

RESULTS: All horses with symptoms of severe keratoconjunctivitis were positive for presence of either EHV-2 and/or EHV-5 nucleic acid using real-time PCR. Assessment of necropsy specimens of the most severely affected case, revealed presence of EHV-2 and/or EHV-5 nucleic acid in several ocular and extraocular anatomical locations. The remaining horses responded favourably to symptomatic treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: This case series illustrates a severe outbreak of keratoconjunctivitis in a group of Icelandic horses, with suspected γ-herpesvirus involvement. For the first time equid γ-herpesviruses were detected in intraocular anatomical locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-429
Number of pages3
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016


  • EHV-2
  • EHV-5
  • Icelandic horse
  • gammaherpesviruses
  • horse
  • keratoconjunctivitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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