PHF Disesase Did Not Originate at Keeneland

A horse stabled at Keeneland that contracted the bacterial disease was euthanized.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture officials have concluded a recent case of Potomac Horse Fever that was diagnosed in a horse at Keeneland’s training center on Rice Road was not contracted or introduced to the horse while he was stabled on the grounds.

State veterinary officials were alerted July 30 when a horse that had been stabled at the facility tested positive for the disease, Rusty Ford, equine programs manager in the Office of State Veterinarian Robert Stout, said in a release.

“Our investigation found the horse developed a fever in the days following his arrival at the training facility from an area farm,” Ford said. “With the fever not easily resolved the colt was moved to an equine hospital for veterinary care and diagnostics. In consultation with the horse’s attending veterinarian and the internist caring for the horse at the hospital, we are confident that there is no evidence that leads us to believe the horse contracted the disease causing agent in the less than five days he was at the training center.”

Furthermore, Ford said he had no knowledge of any additional horses at Keeneland or any other racing environment having contracted the disease.

"This is a condition we see this time of year in Kentucky," said Ford. "I have not seen any indication of a level increasing enough that would cause us great concern. I’ve spoken with the veterinarians that attended to this horse, and (the disease) originated from a farm in Central Kentucky, but they gave me no reason to believe there are other cases developing at that farm."
Potomac Horse Fever is caused by a type of bacteria called "Neoriketssia risticie" and is associated with hot weather and aquatic insects. It is a condition found in Kentucky during the hot summer months. Agriculture and veterinary officials have recently noted an increase in the number of PHF cases diagnosed in several eastern states, Ford said. 

Against that backdrop, equine health officials have been monitoring potential cases in Kentucky, although at this juncture there does not appear to be an increased occurrence rate of the disease, Ford said.

Horses contract the disease after inadvertently consuming infected insects while grazing or eating feedstuffs. The disease is not transmitted from horse to horse, Ford said. Symptoms associated with the disease include fever, diarrhea, and laminitis.

In this case the horse’s condition failed to improve and resulted in the decision to eliminate his suffering through euthanasia, Ford said.