Officials with the State of Louisiana's Department of Agriculture have installed a quarantine on Barn 14 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Tuesday, after a horse residing in that barn tested positive for the equine herpes virus.
The strain of the disease, EHV-1, can be accompanied by neurological symptoms and can prove fatal in horses. The infected horse, an unraced 2-year-old filly trained by Alice Cohn, was euthanized Monday morning as a result of the infection. Horses stabled in Barn 14 will not be permitted to leave the property until the quarantine has been lifted. The horses in Barn 14 will be permitted to train during a specific period after regular training hours with no ponies or other horses present.
All horses in the affected barn will be monitored and if no horses test positive for the virus and do not show symptoms, the quarantine, which is due to last for the next 13 days, will be lifted at that time.
The quarantine will have no impact on horses shipping in for races as long as they arrive with proper vaccination documents. All horses shipping in will be required to use the Belfort Street entrance.
A Fair Grounds trainer who spoke to the Paulick Report said test results came back Monday confirming the finding.
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 earlier this year.
The most recent case of equine herpesvirus at a racetrack occurred at Gulfstream Park in November. Horses in the quarantined barn were permitted to train but at separate times from the general population. The horses were tested and had their temperatures monitored during a 14-day quarantine period. There being no further positive tests, the quarantine was lifted after 14 days.
A website maintained by the Equine Disease Communication Center provides updates on equine herpesvirus and other equine diseases. Alerts on outbreaks can be found here.
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