Equine Herpes Virus update

On Thursday (Feb. 8), the U.S. Equine Disease Control Center issued a series of updates regarding the status of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreaks in Pennsylvania and Kentucky — an outbreak that shut down racing at The Meadows in late January. Racing has been suspended at The Meadows until Feb. 23 and 190 horses are quarantined at the track.

The EHV-1 outbreak has also had an impact in Ohio and forced the Delaware County Agricultural Society to postpone the Blooded Horse Sales Company’s Winter Speed Sale scheduled for Feb. 12 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

“With a couple of cases of Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) reported in the state of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the fair board felt that we should be overly cautious and postpone the sale,” noted Tom Wright, Director of Racing for the Delaware County Fair. “We have around 150 horses on the fairgrounds training daily and we owe the local trainers and owners a safe and healthy environment.”

Delaware County Fair officials have pledged to work with the Blooded Horse Sale Company to see if the sale can be held in the near future.

Thursday’s update comes nearly a week after the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) told owners to
take immediate precautions after the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) confirmed Feb. 2 positive cases of (EHV-1) in four horses at separate locations around the state, including a horse that raced at Miami Valley Gaming and Racing on Jan. 13 and Jan. 24.

ODA has placed multiple facilities under quarantine and is actively investigating where these animals have been and what other animals might have been exposed.

ODA has confirmed two of the positive horses raced at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, PA. Those animals are currently under quarantine at separate facilities. One of the two raced at Miami Valley Raceway near Lebanon Jan. 13 and 24. Testing confirms they have EHV-1 but neither animal is showing clinical signs of illness.

“Racehorse owners should take immediate precautions to protect their animals,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “All owners should closely observe their horses for any signs of illness and take their temperatures daily. They should immediately contact their veterinarian if they have any concerns.”

Additionally, two horses at the University of Findlay have tested positive for EHV. These animals are also not showing clinical symptoms. ODA has placed the facility under quarantine. Currently, the department does not believe these animals are connected to the other positive tests, but epidemiological investigations are underway.

EHV can spread quickly from horse to horse and can cause three different forms of disease: rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease of mostly young horses), abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic disease EHV-1 myeloencephalopathy, which can be fatal to horses. The virus is not a human health threat.

EHV can be spread through the air or contaminated clothing and equipment. It is important that horse owners practice strict biosecurity measures in order to protect their animals and prevent any further spread of the disease. Veterinarians may submit nasal swab samples to the ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for testing.

The U.S. Equine Disease Control Center issued the following EHV-1 updates for Pennsylvania and Kentucky:

The Meadows Racetrack, PA

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians have now posted official quarantines for seven barns at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County. To date, two EHM cases and four additional confirmed EHV-1 positive, non EHM cases have been identified at The Meadows related to this incident. The initial quarantine was posted on Jan. 22 for a suspected case of EHM that was taken from The Meadows to the Ohio State for treatment. That case was confirmed EHV-1 positive on Jan. 22.
The most recent quarantine at The Meadows was posted on Feb. 3. Biosecurity has been implemented in ALL barns and anywhere that people comingle. The track has suspended racing, but continues to evaluate the status of new cases and racing options. The stable gates have been closed since the first official quarantines were posted.

Kennett Square, PA

The official quarantines imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on two barns at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA, have been lifted effective Feb. 3.

A self-imposed quarantine, approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, remains in effect on three horses that previously tested positive for EHV-1. These horses have remained stalled in an on-site isolation facility with dedicated staff that is entirely separate from personnel handling other horses. Quarantine revocation testing for these three animals will begin Wednesday, Feb. 7.

New Bolton Center has resumed normal operations and is currently admitting all equine elective and emergency patients with minimal restrictions.

New Bolton Center Trace Update:

Over the past two weeks, the Dept. of Agriculture has been able to revoke quarantines on all but two of the trace premises in Pennsylvania related to this incident. Testing for quarantine revoke at those two premises will begin on or after February 12. No EHM cases have been identified at any of the trace premises.

Turfway Park, KY

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture confirmed Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHV-1: wild strain) in a horse at Turfway Park in Boone County. The horse presented with neurologic signs on Feb. 2, continued to deteriorate and was euthanized. One barn at the racetrack has been quarantined while the Office of the State Veterinarian conducts an investigation. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s webpage will be updated accordingly.

As of Feb. 6, one barn at Turfway is under quarantine for EHV-1. Three horses, under the care of two different trainers, have been found positive by PCR testing — two were found to be positive on blood and nasal swab, with the third being nasal swab positive, blood negative. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture will continue to have personnel on the grounds working with the track management, horsemen, veterinarians and racing officials.

On Feb. 8, both horses that tested positive for EHV-1 on Feb. 6 at Turfway were removed from the grounds and placed in isolation at a private facility. The horses that had moved from the quarantine barn prior to restrictions being implemented have all been sampled and testing completed. Each horse has been reported negative by PCR on both nasal swabs and whole blood and remain in isolation. There have been no fevers or other evidence of illness reported in the quarantine barn.