West Nile Virus Killed Mare at Golden Gate

(edited CHRB release)
The 5-year-old mare Quick Nip, who was euthanized Aug. 10 at Golden Gate Fields, was infected with West Nile Virus, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at UC Davis confirmed.

The California Horse Racing Board is attempting to determine the vaccination history of Quick Nip, who was claimed twice in her 20-race career and had several owners. Her disease was identified on Aug. 13.

"It is a tragedy to lose a horse in California that could have been saved with a proper vaccination program," said CHRB chairman John Harris. "I urge all trainers, owners, and veterinarians to be very diligent in their health programs. Regardless of how one acquires a horse, it is important that the new custodian keep all vaccinations up to date."

Dr. Annette Whiteford, director of Animal Health & Food Safety Services with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said misquito control and two USDA fully licensed equine vaccines are the most successful methods of keeping the disease in check.

"The two USDA approved vaccines have been demonstrated to provide a high level of protection when used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations," she said. "We urge horse owners to consult with their veterinary practitioners to make certain that the vaccination status of their horse is current.

"It is also very important to remember that a horse infected with the West Nile Virus is not contagious. The horse does not amplify the virus sufficiently to infect and enable biting mosquitoes to spread the disease to other horses or to humans."

Dr. Rick Arthur, a practicing veterinarian on the Southern California thoroughbred circuit and past-president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, pointed out, "Unless there is a clear, unambiguous history of proper West Nile Virus vaccination, any new horse coming under a trainer's care needs to be vaccinated. A properly vaccinated young horse, as we have in horse racing, is very unlikely to contract a clinical case of West Nile Virus.

"Horsemen should be aware the older stable ponies in their barns are actually at the greatest risk. Putting the proper horse care aside, the loss of one horse could cost more than the cost to vaccinate all the horses at the track."

Quick Nip began her career in the barn of Mike Mitchell for owners Wes Horton, Marlan Merhab, and Edward Nance. Steve Knapp claimed her from Mitchell in January of 2003 for James and Marcia Equils. Mark Glatt claimed her from Knapp on May 30, 2004, for himself and co-owner John Xitco out of a race at Hollywood Park. She was later shipped to Northern California but did not race there.