NYRA Vet Team Swings Into Action at Belmont

(from NYRA report)
New York Racing Association's veterinarian team has tested every horse in quarantined barn 60 at Belmont Park after the filly Lady Libby showed signs of contracting the respiratory disease strangles.

The NYRA reported that Lady Libby has been sent to Cornell University for testing and treatment.

"This is how you stop disease from spreading, by doing what we are doing," said Dr. Celeste Kunz, NYRA's chief examining veterinarian. "We had already been on a high surveillance because of the outbreak of strangles in Florida this winter and the recent outbreak of equine herpes at other racetracks. We are proactive, and as soon as this case became suspect, we went into action.

"We have tested every horse in Barn 60, we have disinfected everything, as always, including the starting gates. We have restricted entry to the barn to essential personnel only, and they have been educated in bio-security.

"The lab at the University of Illinois has agreed to stay open for us this holiday weekend to help get the test results back quicker," she added. "We have informed the horsemen of what we are doing, and as I said, that is how you stop transmission of a disease."

Lady Libby exhibited one of the signs of strangles, which was high fever, and then her lymph nodes swelled and abscessed.

"It is still a suspect case, not a confirmed case," Kunz said. "One of the problems was that she had been treated with antibiotics, and that's makes confirmation difficult."

Kunz said the horses in barn 60 would not be allowed to train or race until after the test results are returned. If they come back negative, she will arrange for after-hours training for those horses as a precaution.

The race day security barns have proven to be a boon to NYRA in raising the confidence level of horsemen wishing to run at Belmont Park, she said.

"Ever since we began the race day security barn system (May 4), we have kept the barns very much like a hospital," Kunz said. "We designed those barns while keeping an eye on the infectious diseases that had cropped up over the winter at other racetracks."