Officials at Parx Racing confirmed on Friday that a horse stabled at the track has tested positive for equine herpesvirus. The sick horse, which was in the care of Blaine Servis, has been removed to Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey.
No horses will be permitted to leave Parx until the track receives authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Horses stabled in Servis's barn will not be permitted to race, including those under the care of other trainers in the same building. Horses are being permitted to ship in to race, but will not be allowed to leave until the quarantine period ends.
Five of the seven horses in Saturday's $150,000 Roamin Rachel Stakes at Parx were scratched. Many other races were affected.
“We will move forward with guidance from the vets from the state,” said Sam Elliott, director of racing and racing secretary at Parx who previously dealt with an equine herpesvirus quarantine while at Suffolk Downs. “All proper precautions will be taken.”
The horse that tested positive left Presque Isle Downs on Sept. 21, according to Sal Sinatra, vice president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, which imposed a ban on shippers from the Erie, Pa., track until at least two weeks from that date.
Depending upon the strain of the virus, equine herpesvirus can cause fever and respiratory illness which can be fatal, and can trigger neurological symptoms and death. Equine herpesvirus can be highly contagious, spreading through groups of horses through contact with contaminated equipment or with people who have handled infected horses. The virus is believed to be viable on outside surfaces for up to seven days.
Elliott said the affected horse was shipped to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center “because they have state-of-the-art isolation facilities for cases like this.”
Among the horses currently unable to leave Parx is PJG Stable's multiple graded stakes winner, Favorite Tale, who trainer Guadalupe Preciado has been pointing for the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Keeneland.
Click here to learn more about equine herpesvirus in this paper prepared by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
(additional reporting by Ray Paulick)
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