Louisiana: For Some Barns, Fair Grounds EHV-1 Quarantine Could Be Lifted By Saturday

by | 01.18.2017 | 6:20pm
Both Fair Grounds and Delta Downs had two-horse races earlier this month, due to quarantine-related scratches

Fair Grounds & the Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture issued the following update Thursday, Jan. 19:

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture has issued an addendum to the incident plan regarding the EHV-1 outbreak on the backstretch at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

All barns continue to have enhanced biosecurity measures and twice daily monitoring of temperatures. Unaffected barns may be considered for quarantine release as early as Jan. 21

Barns considered affected may be released from quarantine without testing as early as Jan. 23, barring the presence of any new horses in those barns developing clinical signs consistent with the virus.

Horses that have been isolated from those barns after testing positive will be eligible for quarantine release with two consecutive negative tests, not less than 72 hours apart, after at least 14 days in quarantine since testing positive or having been exposed to a positive horse. Testing for quarantine release may begin on Jan. 23.

The following release was issued Wednesday, Jan. 18:

The quarantine on the New Orleans Fair Grounds Racetrack facility could be lifted January 21, 2017. Testing indicates there are no new cases of the neurologic disease known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM). The last case of EHM was detected on December 31, 2016. Horses, however, are still being monitored for both EHM and the strain of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) which can progress to the more severe EHM.  

The quarantine will phase out starting with the 42 barns where horses never showed signs of being clinically ill.  

“We are encouraged that the disease seems to be contained. These measures were taken for the health and safety of all horses in the state,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain. “We continue to work with the Fair Grounds and Racing Commission to ensure that biosecurity measures will be maintained.” 

As of Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 39 horses remain in isolation. There are six quarantined barns and one isolation barn. All horses that tested positive for EHV-1 will remain in isolation until they test negative for the virus. Horses that were exposed to the disease but do not test positive will remain quarantined and will be released on a case by case basis.


“After consulting with the state veterinarian, USDA Veterinary Services, LSU and outside experts on infectious diseases, we feel this is a logical plan to allow the release of unaffected horses. The horses that remain in isolation are most at-risk. We will continue to monitor these horses until they are in the clear. However, should there be another case of EHV-1 or EHM, we will respond accordingly,” said Strain. 

Sixty-five ship-in (day race) horses that were possibly exposed to an EHV-1 positive horse in the receiving barn and placed in isolation at undisclosed locations will follow the same procedures before release. 

Last month, a 2-year-old Thoroughbred reportedly developed a fever and neurological signs and was humanely euthanized on December 26, 2016. Nasal swab and blood tests were confirmed positive for Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) neuropathogenic strain at the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.  The virus is spread most commonly by direct horse-to-horse contact. It can also be spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, ocular or nasal discharge, limb swelling, abortion, and neurologic signs such as unsteady gait, urine dribbling, hind limb weakness, and inability to rise. There is no cure for the disease but symptoms may be treatable.

Horses in unaffected barns are likely to be released first, while those in barns which have had cases of EHV-1 are considered higher risk. According to additional information distributed by the state, the earliest release dates, pending temperature and symptom monitoring, are as follows: Receiving Barn, Jan. 23; Barn 4, Jan. 27; Barns 30 and 47, Jan. 31; Barn 45: Feb. 3. Barns 14 and 36 are “high risk” and could not be released before Feb. 6.

A complete incident report from the state is available here.

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