EHV-1 Confirmed at Vernon Downs

EHV-1 Confirmed at Vernon Downs

Officials are urging managers to monitor horses' body temperatures several times throughout the day and seek immediate veterinary attention for horses with noticeable nasal discharge or temperatures above 101.5°F.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Veterinary officials implemented a quarantine at Vernon Downs harness racing track, in Vernon, N.Y., after confirming a case of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) on May 4, according to a May 5 statement.

"Vernon Downs' stable area remains under quarantine as a safety precaution after a case of EHV-1 was diagnosed on Saturday," the statement read. "The virus is currently contained to one barn on the Vernon backstretch. That barn is under constant secured quarantine.

"The length of the quarantine is undetermined at this time," the statement continued. "The situation will continue to be monitored by both track and state officials, and any updates will be made known in a timely fashion."

The statement said that after consulting with the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets director David Smith, DVM, the track is recommending the following practices for managers or horses that have recently been in the area or those that move frequently between racetracks:

  • Monitor horses' body temperatures several times throughout the day;
  • Check regularly for nasal discharge or coughing; and
  • Seek immediate veterinary attention for horses with noticeable nasal discharge or temperatures above 101.5°F.

According to the statement, the track is planning to run Thursday's (May 9) race card using only horses stabled at the track.

"No ship-ins will be granted entry to the barn area and will be scratched from the races without penalty," the statement said.

The statement also noted that several racetracks have placed precautions in effect for horses that raced at Vernon Downs from April 19 through May 3: "If you have a horse that has raced at Vernon during that period, contact the Tioga Downs or Meadowlands Race Office to discuss what stipulations need to be met for the entry to be accepted at those tracks. Upon arrival at the track, the shipper must produce an official health certificate current within 72 hours and each horse will be subject to an examination by a track veterinarian."

Although it's not transmissible to humans, EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids and is generally passed from horse to horse via aerosol transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough) and contact with nasal secretions. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form).

Myeloencephalopathy is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence. Should a horse that potentially has been exposed to EHV-1 display any of the aforementioned clinical signs, call a veterinarian to obtain samples and test for the disease. will provide updates as additional information becomes available.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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