by Erin Ryder
One barn is in lockdown and movement of horses on or off the grounds has ceased, but training continues at Charles Town Races & Slots, the West Virginia track that instituted the precautions after a horse in its stable area displayed neurologic signs considered to be consistent with equine herpesvirus-1.
Test results are expected later in the day July 16, according to Dickie Moore, general manager at the West Virginia track.
Moore said track officials were notified of the neurologic horse the morning of July 15, at which time the affected barn was quarantined. All movement of horses on and off the grounds has been called to a halt. Biosecurity measures have been implemented.
"We pretty much take the expertise of the veterinarians," Moore said. "They're the experts in this field. We listen to all the recommendations they give us, and we go from there."
Apart from horses in the affected barn, training continued as normal July 16. Moore said Charles Town plans to race as scheduled to evening of July 17.
The situation was first confirmed July 15 by a state official. “The track has imposed a quarantine to keep any horses on the ground there—no movement of animals on or off the track grounds,” said Buddy Davidson, communications officer with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
According to Davidson, officials collected test samples from the affected horse. Davidson said the affected horse is alive, but no other details were immediately available.
Charles Town currently offers live Thoroughbred racing four days a week (Thursdays through Sundays). Horses often travel between Charles Town and Colonial Downs in Virginia; Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia; and Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Pennsylvania.
EHV-I is a form of herpesvirus that can cause fevers and neurologic signs that range from incoordination and weakness in the hind limbs to paralysis. Precautions are necessary because EHV-1 is highly contagious and can spread through the air. It can also be passed on shared tack and barn equipment, as well as human hands and clothing, making tight biosecurity essential to stop it from spreading.
Scientists definitively diagnose EHV-1 infections on virus culture from blood or nasal secretions, PCR (polymerase chain-reaction test, a DNA test of blood or nasal secretions), or serology (blood antibody titers).