Laurel Horse Tests Positive for EHV-1

From Laurel Park

The Maryland Department of Agriculture confirmed Nov. 13 that a 2-year old filly at Laurel Park in barn 1 has tested presumptive positive for equine herpesvirus pending confirmatory testing from the University of Kentucky. The horse, who could not stand yesterday morning, was sitting up and eating this morning with no fever.

"We are working cooperatively with all involved parties using the most up-to-date science and best practices to manage this situation and are doing comprehensive tests to determine the nature of this outbreak," said Maryland State Veterinarian Dr. Guy Hohenhaus. "In the meantime, we urge everyone's diligence in continuing strong preventive measures such as keeping new horses separate from your general barn population for at least one week, disinfecting, and keeping vaccinations up to date."

A hold order has been placed on barn 1 at the central Maryland track, restricting all movement into and out of the barn, pending further testing. None of the other 29 horses are showing neurologic signs. MDA took blood samples and nasal swabs on selected horses in barn the morning of Nov. 13. Preliminary test results should be available by the afternoon of Nov. 14.

In January 2006, a filly at Laurel Park was euthanized due to neurologic EHV-1, and at least 11 horses at Pimlico showed clinical signs of the virus.

"Today's news is disappointing but we have already put the proper precautions into place to control the situation," said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale. "We learned a great deal from 2006 and now know to shut things down immediately if there is a possible case so as to reduce the possibility of it spreading. The one advantage to having this happen in barn 1 is that it is already isolated from much of the backside."

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. The MDA recommends maintaining appropriate vaccination procedures to help reduce the incidence of the respiratory form of EHV-1 infection, which might 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 by airborne droplets. This virus is not associated with any human health risk.

Regular updates regarding this investigation will be available on MDA’s website www.mda.state.md.us.
 

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