Michael Burns

Woodbine EHV-1 Restrictions Lifted by ORC

Quarantine rules had been in effect since earlier this month after one horse died.

All restrictions placed on horses at Woodbine due to an outbreak of neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 earlier this month have been lifted, the Ontario Racing Commission announced June 26.

The ending of restrictions on training and racing for horses living in Barn 1 at the Toronto-area track comes two weeks since the last horse from that barn tested positive for the EHV-1 strain.

Five horses from Barn 1 originally tested positive for the virus, with one of those being euthanized June 10 after showing neurologic signs. A second horse was removed from the grounds, and after running a fever and showing neurologic signs, that horse was transported to the Ontario Veterinary College for treatment.

A second barn was quarantined because a pony stabled there had contact with horses from Barn 1, but restrictions were lifted there June 19 after two negative tests were returned on all horses in that barn.

All horses from Barn 1 were being closely monitored, including having their temperature readings taken twice daily, since the last horse tested positive June 12, according to the ORC. During the period of full quarantine, biosecurity protocol prevented horses residing in Barns 1 and 3 from leaving their barns and any horse from exiting the premises without ORC permission.

"The infectious and serious nature of this disease prompted these measures and reinforced the need to protect Ontario’s equine athletes," said Dr. Adam Chambers, the ORC's manager of veterinary services, in an industry notice. "As a standard practice, participants are reminded of the importance of establishing appropriate biosecurity measures.

"Racetrack management need to maintain aggressive disinfectant programs in ship-in barn areas," Chambers added. "Further, trainers and their staff should adopt strict procedures and separate equipment for each horse to minimize the likelihood of spreading infectious disease."

Chambers said that until further notice, horses with fevers of unknown origin are to be reported and isolated until two negative polymerase chain reaction tests have been returned.