By Lynne Snierson
Following the recent death of one horse stabled at Suffolk Downs
from equine herpes myelitis, no horses are being allowed to leave the track, though no official quarantine has been imposed.
As of June 18, horses may ship in but none may leave for any other racetrack or farm. Furthermore, horses stabled in the barn in which the affected horse was housed are being isolated from the general population, which now numbers 626.
Horses in barn 21 may only train after regular hours when no others are on the track, and they may not be entered to race.
Said Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, director of racing for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission: "The barn in question is under enhanced biosecurity measures and we are taking other special measures to protect the horse population."
After the case of EHM was diagnosed, Dr. Lorraine O'Connor, chief veterinary health officer for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, sent a letter to all horsemen outlining the symptoms of the contagious illness, which can cause respiratory disease, severe illness, neurological disease, and death.
Horsemen are being asked to monitor their horses for fever, often the first clinical sign, and take the temperature of each horse twice daily. They are urged to report any fever or other signs of illness as delineated in the letter.
Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle was not on track or available for comment June 18.
Durenberger said officials with the state are closely monitoring the situation and compiling a database. They have been in contact with other racing jurisdictions where horses from Suffolk Downs may have already shipped.
One other horse on the grounds has developed a fever, which officials said may have been caused by a number of factors unrelated to EHM. Samples drawn from that horse have been sent to the state laboratory for testing, and authorities are awaiting the results.
Jacqueline Falk is the trainer of the horse who tested positive and died at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine equine facility after being transferred. Falk chose not to comment when contacted.