Initial Tests Negative in Ellis Strangles Case

Results of the initial round of testing of horses quarantined barn at Ellis Park have all come back negative for the equine bacterial disease strangles.

Nasal wash samples were collected from the 17 horses--16 Thoroughbreds and one pony-- stabled in Barn Nine and were submitted for testing July 7. Each of the animals were reported as negative for both culture and PCR testing. The results were received late Tuesday.

"With the results of these tests we remain confident that the problem was detected early, allowing our intervention to minimize the spread of disease," said Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Animal Health Division.

Under protocol established by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, each horse in the quarantined barn must test negative for strangles in three consecutive tests before being allowed to return to the general horse population at Ellis Park. Samples for the second round of tests were collected July 14 and to EBI Laboratory in Lexington for examination.

A third round of tests will be scheduled following the results of the second round of testing. Before being released from quarantine, each horse will be required to undergo an endoscopic examination of the gutteral pouches to ensure there is no infection.

Strangles is a bacterial infection that causes fever, nasal discharge, and swelling in the throat. In severe cases, it can lead to the formation of abscesses in the throat that limit a horse's breathing.

One barn has been quarantined at Ellis Park since July 5 following a confirmed case of the disease in one horse. The infected horse, a 4-year-old filly trained by Ron Moquett, displayed possible symptoms of the disease during the first week of July, As symptoms progressed and the possibility of strangles was more probable, the filly was moved from Barn Nine at Ellis Park to a private quarantine facility July 4. All 17 horses under quarantine in Barn Nine are in Moquett's care.