Reported by Alan Frio
LEIPERS FORK, Tenn.
Barbara Brooks owns 80 cutting horses on her 500-acre farm in Liepers Fork. Cutting horses are trained to track cows in championship competition.
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Brooks is also a director of the National Cutting Horse Association. She is well aware how fast the Herpes Virus-1 can spread. The outbreak has been traced to a cutting horse show in Ogden, Utah. It has since spread to five western states.
"The National Cutting Horse Association has been proactive in trying to shut this down," said Brooks.
To keep the virus in check, the association has canceled all events for the next two weeks, including an event in early June at the Williamson County Ag Expo.
"If we kept having the shows on the eastern side of the Mississippi, the people from the western side, where the exposure is the most serious, would bring their horses to show here," said Brooks.
Mort Wooten, an equine veterinarian, said Herpes-1 is a big mystery in so many ways.
"How it starts, that's a good question. We don't really know that. All of a sudden, it just blows up," said Wooten.
Even more frightening is that an owner may not even know their horse has it right away.
"'Oh, well, they just have a respiratory thing,' and all of a sudden 12 days later, you start seeing horses with a neurological problem," said Wooten
The new strain has mutated to attack the horses' nervous systems. For now, Wooten thinks the best defense against the disease from spreading is to stop shows and events.
"Let's don't move the horses around. Keep them kind of still," said Wooten.