Strangles Identified in Horse at Ellis Park

A 4-year-old filly stabled at Ellis Park has been diagnosed with strangles. Rusty Ford, equine programs manager for the office of the state veterinarian, said the filly presented June 30 with an elevated body temperature and has since been removed from the grounds and taken to a private quarantine facility near Lexington.

The infected filly is one of 15 horses stabled in trainer Ron Moquett's barn. Preliminary information suggests the infected filly arrived at Ellis Park from Prairie Meadows June 17, according to Ford.

The remaining horses in Moquett's barn have been placed under quarantine and will undergo a three-part series of testing to determine if any of those animals are infected. Initial culture tests and pharyngeal throat washes to determine the status of each horse in the barn were conducted July 7.

Ford said currently none of the horses remaining in the infected barn are showing any signs of illness.

Each horse that ships in or out of Ellis Park must now be examined by a veterinarian and have a 24-hour temporary health certificate.

Alternate training hours have been scheduled for the remaining horses stabled in Moquett's barn. The general population at Ellis Park trains each day from 6-10 a.m. while the horses in the quarantined barn will be permitted to train each day from 10-11a.m. Persons coming into contact with the horses are required to undergo bio-security measures when entering and leaving the barns.

"The precautionary measures and protocols recommended by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture are proven to be effective and we hope that no more cases of strangles will be reported at Ellis Park," said Paul Kuerzi, vice president and general manager of Ellis Park. "We want to assure all horsemen that our track will strictly follow these precautionary measures, but the quarantine should have no impact on our 2005 racing meet that opens July 13.

"While we urge all horsemen to continue to closely monitor their horses, we want to assure them that the health and safety of their horses remains our top priority."

Strangles is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. The upper respiratory bacterial infection generally causes sudden fever, nasal discharge, depression, and swelling and rupture of the lymph nodes in the affected horse's head and throat area. Seldom fatal, strangles can restrict a horse's breathing.

Strangles was reported earlier this year at Churchill Downs and its Trackside Training Facility, as well as Florida's Palm Meadows Training Center.

"Thanks in part to the early detection by the trainer and attending veterinarian, we are optimistic that they affected animal was removed from the grounds at Ellis Park prior to her entering an infectious state," Ford said.