In this report we examined the presence of specific antibodies against equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1 and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) in several equidae, including mules, donkeys, horses. The presence of EHV-1 and EHV-4 in respiratory diseases of equids, and ability of multiplex nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening in simultaneous diagnosis of horses acutely infected by EHV-1 and EHV-4 were also investigated. Sera from 504 horses, mules and donkeys sampled were tested for the presence of EHV-1 and EHV-4 specific antibodies. Blood samples taken from 21 symptomatic horses and nasal swabs taken from 40 symptomatic horses were tested for the presence of EHV-1 and EHV-4 by a multiplex nested PCR. A total of 14.3% (3/21) of buffy coat samples and 32.5% (13/40) nasal swab samples were found to contain EHV-1 DNA, while 19% (4/21) buffy coat samples and 22.5% (9/40) nasal swab samples were found to be positive for EHV-4 DNA. By species, 14.5% of horses, 37.2% of mules and 24.2% of donkeys tested were EHV-1 seropositive. EHV-4 specific antibodies were detected in 237 (81.7%) of 290 horse sera tested. Results from this investigation demonstrate that EHV-1 and EHV-4 are prevalent throughout the equid population, and that donkeys and mules might also represent an important source of infection for other equids. We also showed that the multiplex nested PCR assay might be useful for diagnosis of mixed respiratory infections in horses due to EHV-1 and EHV-4. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.