Latent equine herpesvirus-1 in trigeminal ganglia and equine idiopathic headshaking

Monica R Aleman, K. J. Pickles, G. Simonek, John E Madigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Trigeminal neuralgia or neuropathic pain has been regarded as a putative cause of idiopathic headshaking in horses. Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) infection and resultant postherpetic pain have been suggested as a possible cause of such neuropathic pain. Hypothesis/Objectives: To determine the presence of EHV-1 in the trigeminal ganglia of horses with idiopathic headshaking. Animals: Nineteen horses: control (n = 11, 9 geldings, 2 mares, median age 11 years) and headshaking (n = 8, all geldings, median age 11.5 years) horses were sourced from the equine research herd and caseload at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Methods: Prospective study to determine the presence of EHV-1 latency in trigeminal ganglia of horses with idiopathic headshaking by real-time PCR detection of the glycoprotein B (gB) gene and the DNA polymerase (ORF 30) gene of EHV-1 in the absence of detectable late structural protein gene (gB gene) mRNA. Control horses were used for comparison. A house keeping gene (equine GAPDH) and positive and negative samples for EHV-1 were used for quality control. Results: All samples from control horses and 7 of 8 headshaking horses were negative for EHV-1. One headshaking horse tested positive for a single copy of EHV-1 gene. Conclusions and Clinical Importance: This study does not support a role for EHV-1 infection and presumed postherpetic pain in the etiopathogenesis of equine headshaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-194
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Headshakers
  • Horse
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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