Vernon Downs EHV-1: One Horse Euthanized

A May 8 statement from New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine and State Gaming Commission Acting Executive Director Robert Williams now indicates that three horses stabled at Vernon Downs Raceway are infected with a strain of the equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). One of these horses was humanely euthanized, the statement said.

As of May 8, no other horses at New York racetracks or at Vernon Downs, located in Vernon, N.Y., have been reported positive for EHV-1, the statement said.

"The Department of Agriculture and Markets has implemented a 28-day quarantine period," the statement read. "No horses will be permitted to ship in or out of Vernon Downs until 28 days after the Department of Agriculture and Markets has determined that the infected horses stop showing symptoms of EHV-1. Barn number 4 and barn number 2 at Vernon Downs are under strict quarantine, and the only persons permitted to enter these barns are horse caretakers assigned to those barns. Horses in these barns are prohibited from racing or training on the track. These barns will remain under strict quarantine until 28 days after the last signs of EHV-1 are seen in their populations.

"Based on these procedures, the Gaming Commission has authorized Vernon Downs to resume live racing on Friday, May 10 with unaffected horses that are currently on the grounds of the racetrack," the statement continued.

The statement indicates that the "quarantine procedures are subject to change as both the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Gaming Commission continue to monitor the situation at Vernon Downs closely and may modify restrictions based on conditions on-site and/or new information."

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.

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