HighPointe Farm and Training Center in LaGrange, KY, now has a total of six horses in one barn on the premises which have tested positive for EHV-1, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center. Turfway Park, approximately one hour north of the training center, was instructed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture on Thursday not to allow entries from HighPointe and to scratch all previously entered horses.
The outbreak at HighPointe was initially reported on Jan. 11, and began with a single positive result in a single barn. The affected horse developed a fever, and was found to be infected with the wild strain of the EHV-1 virus. That horse, which has not demonstrated any neurological symptoms, was removed from the barn and isolated, after which the Department of Agriculture mandated a quarantine and ordered tests on all the other horses in that barn. The results of those tests were released Friday evening: five additional horses showed positive tests for the wild strain, despite showing no clinical signs of infection. Those five horses have also been isolated.
Monitoring of the horses in the other barns at HighPointe continues, and there has been no evidence discovered suggesting the virus has spread to other barns or areas on the premises. Health monitoring of the population continues and individual reports are being assessed daily by the Department of Agriculture.
The state of Kentucky generally requires a 14-day quarantine period for barns that have experienced an EHV-1 positive, while the horse having returned the positive test is isolated for a minimum of 21 days.
Live racing is scheduled to continue at Turfway Park, and additional biosecurity protocols have been implemented at the northern Kentucky racetrack, according to state veterinary assistant Rusty Ford. The strategies include control and oversight of horse movement onto and off the track, restriction of racing ship-ins to the receiving barn, and the elevation of daily biosecurity practices to include enhanced race day cleaning/disinfecting of common areas and equipment to include starting gates, receiving barn, test barn, etc.
“While somewhat disruptive to 'business as usual', these added safeguards are our best opportunity to maintain a healthy environment for horses to come and race,” said Ford in statement released Friday. “We appreciate the sacrifice made by horsemen, track management, veterinarians, security and the backside ground crew.”
A separate farm in the same county (Oldham) in Kentucky also experienced an outbreak of EHV-1 this month, though there is no evidence that the two cases are related. Confirmed to be the LaCroix Equine Rehabilitation, Breaking and Early Training Center, the facility first became aware of the infection on Jan. 4, when a filly with neurological symptoms was referred to a Lexington equine hospital. She tested positive for EHV-1 neurogenic strain. An additional three horses were diagnosed with the same strain on Jan. 6, but no additional positives have been reported since that date.
A trace of horses that had left LaCriox was conducted and did result in two additional horses being identified as positive. Each of these horses are on private facilities. Both of the positive horses and their cohorts remain isolated and monitoring continues.
There is also no evidence to suggest any link with the outbreak of EHV-1 at Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana.
For further updates from Equine Disease Communications Center click here.
There are nine strains of equine herpesvirus on record, and many horses are exposed to some form of EHV with no serious side effects or symptoms. Three strains are considered serious health risks, including EHV-1, which may present with fever and respiratory symptoms and can also carry neurological symptoms and a risk of death. Symptoms of the neurologic form of EHV-1 include fever and nasal discharge, followed by lack of coordination, lethargy, head tilt, and inability to balance or stand. EHV-1 is highly contagious and may be transmitted through contaminated equipment, contact between horses, and on clothing or hands of humans working with sick horses. Veterinarians aren't sure how long the virus can survive in the environment, or how well it travels through the air. The Paulick Report compiled a list of frequently-asked questions about EHV-1 during an outbreak at Sunland Park early last year.
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