Charles Town, Penn National Impose Restrictions Over EHV-1 Concerns

Penn National and Charles Town racetracks have imposed restrictions on horses shipping to their tracks as a result of suspected cases of equine herpesvirus in the Mid Atlantic region.

Penn National reported that its stable area has been closed effective immediately to all horses arriving from tracks, farms and training centers in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

"Any horse currently stabled at Penn National that leaves the grounds to race in Maryland or West Virginia will not be allowed to return to the Penn National stable area until further notice," a statement from the Pennsylvania track said. "Any horse stabled on a farm from which horses are shipped to race in Maryland or West Virginia will not be allowed access to the Penn National barn area until further notice. At this time horses will be allowed to race at and return from Philadelphia Park. These restrictions will remain in effect until further notice."

Charles Town, in West Virginia, on Friday imposed an embargo on any horses that have been in the states of Maryland or Virginia since Feb. 1.

The embargo, which precludes horses from those states being able to ship to or race at Charles Town, had an immediate effect on the track’s Friday night card. Racing secretary Doug Lamp said there were as many as 30 scratches for the 10-race program due to Maryland and Virginia horses being excluded from the grounds.

“Half of our race card usually consists of shippers,” said Lamp, adding that the embargo is in place indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Marion du Pont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., is holding two EHV-1 information meetings. They are:
--Informational Meeting for Veterinarians - Saturday, Feb. 24, 1-3 p.m., Morven Park International Equestrian Center, 41793 Tutt Lane, Leesburg, Virginia 20176
--Informational Meeting for Clients - Monday, Feb. 26, 7-9 p.m., Best Western Leesburg-Dulles, 726 East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia.
Meanwhile, the following is the latest update from the Maryland Department of Agriculture:
New information Thursday, Feb. 22, from Leesburg indicates there are a number of new facilities and horses of interest in Maryland. MDA is in the process of evaluating their risk level, collecting samples and placing hold orders on these facilities as appropriate.
--The Hold Order - All eight properties of interest in Maryland are under MDA 7-day "investigational hold orders," which does the same thing as a quarantine - prevent the movement of horses on or off of the properties until they are lifted.
--We are taking this very seriously and our policy is NOT to wait for test results to place a hold order. We can extend or lift the hold orders as warranted.
--Based on our animal health staff's visits and evaluations of the farms, horses - those from Leesburg as well as stablemates, the fact that they are generally small, private farms, and the general lack of movement on and off the farms prior to the hold orders, we feel this is a minimal risk situation to the broader horse community.  We expect the first round of samples back by Monday.
--At this time, we are advising people (other than those on the farms with hold orders) to go about their normal business cautiously and with a heightened sense of awareness. Be sure to ask questions about the health of horses at a destination farm and shippers before moving your horse.
--For farriers, feed truck operators and other service personnel with concerns about the status of your customers: ALWAYS ask your client if they are under a hold order.  MDA provides instructions for farm owners or managers on proper bio-security and management of supplier/service people visits when the farm is under a hold order.
--Always report any signs of illness to private veterinarian. With EHV-1,  fevers over 103, unexplained respiratory disease, and any nerologic conditions are of concern. Neurologic signs are reportable by veterinarians in Maryland.   
--Because we now feel this is low-risk situation for the broad community, we are not discussing locations of animals as it will not have an impact on containing the situation. 
--There are no EHV-1 positive horses in Maryland now.

Meanwhile, under the direction of state veterinarian Richard Wilkes, veterinarians with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have quarantined six farms in Northern Virginia with horses that might have been exposed to a horse infected with EHV-1.

Quarantines will restrict movement on and off the affected facilities. In addition, veterinarians are urging horse owners to observe strict hygiene control procedures, including a thorough cleaning and disinfecting routine using a proven disinfectant/cleaner, to avoid spreading the disease in the environment.

EHV-1 is a highly infectious disease that usually affects the respiratory system. Occasionally, the virus can also cause neurologic disease. Transmission likely occurs by inhaling infected droplets or ingesting material contaminated by nasal discharges or aborted fetuses.