Second Horse Euthanized at Pimlico Suspected of Having EHV-1

Edited Maryland Jockey Club release
Officials at Pimlico Racecourse announced Friday that a second horse euthanized at the Maryland track is suspected to have had equine herpesvirus-1. As a result, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has placed a "hold order" on Barn 6, where the horse was stabled.

According to a statement from the Maryland Jockey Club, the horse was euthanized Friday morning after showing neurological signs. Equine herpesvirus-1 (also known as "rhino") causes upper respiratory infection and can also cause neurological disease.

The latest suspected case of a horse dying from EHV came 11 days after News Reporter, a gelding stabled in Barn 5, was euthanized. Tests released Tuesday confirmed that News Reporter was carrying the herpes virus.

"This morning in Barn 6 one horse who had been previously healthy became very sick and demonstrated neurologic signs to a point where it was unable to rise even with assistance," said Maryland state veterinarian, Guy Hohenhaus. "The owners opted, after discussions with their veterinarians, to euthanize the animal and submit it for postmortem examination at the College Park laboratory."

One week ago, Pimlico officials isolated horses showing signs of the virus into the Detention Barn (Barn 8) and put a "hold order" on Barn 5 at the Baltimore track as a precautionary measure. Six horses are currently in isolation. The first Hold Order affects the barn that houses horses trained by Charles Frock, William Christmas, Robert Gamber, Hassan Elamri and David Mohan. Horses conditioned by those trainers are not allowed to race until further notice. The 40 horses have been allowed to train from 10-11 a.m.

The second "hold order" affects horses trained by Simon Purdy, Crystal Pickett, Henry Walters, Judith DiNatale, Joseph Ayres, Sr. and Joseph Ayres, Jr . Horses conditioned by those trainers are not allowed to race until further notice. The 43 horses in the barn will be allowed to train from 10-11 a.m.

On Friday morning, the Department of Agriculture received test results on five of the six horses currently in isolation. The five all tested positive for Polymerase Chain Reaction test, a screening test looking for direct evidence of the virus in the blood. Results on the sixth horse, who began a fever Monday afternoon, will be available next week. That horse and another in the Detention Barn have not had signs of neurologic disease.

"This means we are still dealing with an active herpes outbreak but all the animals in Barn 8 have all shown improvement," added Hohenhaus. "Things have also stabilized in Barn 5 where we have not had a sick animal since Monday."

The other 450 horses based at Pimlico will continue to train from 5:30-9:30 a.m. Beginning Jan 14, horses from farms will not be allowed to ship into the Preakness Way portion of Pimlico to work. Trainers can use the Rogers Avenue side of Pimlico or ship to Laurel Park or the Bowie Training Center.

Live racing is currently being conducted at Pimlico's sister track, Laurel Park. The Pimlico spring meeting begins in mid-April.

There is currently no known method to reliably prevent the neurologic form of EHV-1 infection. It is recommended to maintain appropriate vaccination procedures in an attempt to reduce the incidence of the respiratory form of EHV-1 infection, which may help prevent the neurologic form. Transmission of the virus can occur via coughing or sneezing as well as by direct contact with infected horses, feed and equipment.