Brazil has the fourth largest equine herd in the world and the State of Minas Gerais has the largest equine population in the country. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis of cases of neurologic diseases is a priority in Minas Gerais. The aim of this study was to identify by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) infectious agents associated with neurological disease in the central nervous system (CNS) of horses. A survey of encephalitis and encephalomyelitis in horses in Minas Gerais State was performed on samples of CNS from horses that died with neurological signs from January 2009 to January 2011. Forty seven CNS samples from 217 (21.7%) horses were positive for rabies virus by the indirect immunofluorescence assay and mouse inoculation. Among the 170 samples that were negative for rabies, EHV-1 was detected in 20 (11.8%) and the swine herpesvirus-1 (SHV-1) was detected in one sample by PCR, and the Saint Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) was identified in another sample by reverse transcription (RT) and PCR (RT-PCR). Rabies virus is the most common causative agent of encephalitis in horses, despite the increasing number of cases of encephalitis associated with EHV-1 in the State of Minas Gerais.
horse; diagnosis; encephalitis; Brazil