Flu likely cause of horse deaths at Colorado BLM facility

April 29, 2022 GMT

CANON CITY, Colo. (AP) — An equine influenza virus is the likely cause of a respiratory disease outbreak that has killed about 100 wild horses at a federal holding facility in southern Colorado.

Bureau of Land Management officials say two leading veterinary diagnostic labs identified the virus in nasal swabs and lung tissue from several horses at the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Canon City, about 150 miles (241 kilometers) southwest of Denver.

The facility remains under a voluntary quarantine, and all of the horses there will be kept on the property until they are healthy and pose no risk to domestic horses in the community.

The horses that have been most affected by the disease were gathered from the West Douglas area last fall following a wildfire that impacted their habitat.

“This tragic outcome was influenced by a population of horses that may have been particularly vulnerable given their time in the West Douglas area and their exposure to last year’s wildfire that prompted their emergency gather,” said Ben Gruber, BLM Colorado acting associate state director

The outbreak started April 23, and 95 horses have died as of Thursday.

The strain of flu, which is not uncommon among wild and domestic horses, is not related to the current outbreak of the avian influenza that is affecting wild birds and poultry across the country.