Official Says Disease Won't Affect Hong Kong Races

Calling a fatal incident of Japanese encephalitis an "isolated incident," an official with the Hong Kong Jockey Club said its international racing festival on Dec. 17 will go on as scheduled and that it will be "business as usual" for one of the world's most successful Thoroughbred operations. On Oct. 30, Hong Kong-based Group Fortune died from the mosquito borne viral disease that mainly affects pigs, horses, and humans.

HKJC director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges was quoted in the South China Morning Post as follows: "We understand the Hong Kong government veterinary authorities are able to sign the certification required for the return journeys and onward travel of horses to Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. The horses will only be stabled with horses of equivalent health status in vector-proof quarantine stables and they will meet solely on the race track."

The disease has prevented Hong Kong-based runners from competing in recent international races in Japan, including the Nov. 26 Japan Cup (Jpn-I), and because of quarantine regulations no Japanese runners will be attending the Hong Kong races next month.

A further statement from the HKJC said: "The Club wishes to emphasize that this was very much an isolated incident and no other horse in Hong Kong has shown any signs whatsoever of this disease. Horses are considered to be dead-end hosts and as such are incapable of passing on the virus to other animals including horses or humans."