(From Maryland Jockey Club press release)
LAUREL, MD. 11-14-08—The Maryland Jockey Club Friday announced until further notice no horses will be allowed to ship into Laurel Park except those from the Bowie Training Center on a Maryland Jockey Club shuttle. The limitations were instituted after a two-year-old filly in Barn 1 at Laurel tested positive for equine herpesvirus Thursday. In addition horses based at Laurel and Bowie are restricted to the grounds. The Pimlico Race Course stable area is closed for the winter.
“This is a precautionary measure,” said Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. “It is in our best interest to restrict the movement of horses in and out of Laurel until we see the outcome of the tests on the remaining horses in Barn 1.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) placed an “Investigational Animal Hold Order” on Barn 1 pending laboratory results after Nin, from trainer King Leatherbury's stable, showed neurologic signs of the virus. The filly tested presumptive positive for equine herpesvirus, but the blood samples sent to the University of Kentucky were inconclusive so additional samples were taken today.
The Hold Order limits all movement into and out of Barn 1, pending further testing. None of the other 29 horses are showing neurologic signs. Testing will continue in the barn.
Today's announcement forced 38 horses to be scratched from Friday's nine-race card and another 29 shippers will not be allowed to race tomorrow. The Maryland Jockey Club racing office attracted 87 entries on the overnight for next Wednesday's nine-race program, which were taken today.
“Everyone is being affected financially but you can't keep track of the movement of horses that come off the farm or another training center,” said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale. “Entries will be short but we are trying to keep this situation confined.”
The Maryland racing community faced an outbreak of the virus in early 2006 when three horses at Pimlico and another at Laurel were euthanized, while three live racing cards at Laurel Park were cancelled due to lack of horses as racetracks in neighboring states barred horses from running in Maryland.
Equine herpesvirus causes upper respiratory infection and can lead to severe neurological disease. There is currently no known method to reliably prevent the neurologic form of EHV-1 infection. It is recommended to maintain appropriate vaccination procedures in an attempt to reduce the incidence of the respiratory form of EHV-1 infection, which may help prevent the neurologic form. Transmission occurs primarily by direct nose to nose contact or contaminated hands, equipment, feed and water. It can also be spread up to 35 feet by airborn droplets. This virus is not associated with any human health risk.
3:50 pm update:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture reports that testing from the University of Kentucky confirms that the 2-year old filly in Laurel Park's Barn 1 is positive for EHV-1.
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