Florida EHV-1: Officials Await Test Results

Florida EHV-1: Officials Await Test Results

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

Animal health officials are awaiting test results on samples from more than 200 horses connected to the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) circuit, according to a March 11 statement from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Several horses connected with the HITS circuit have tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) since late February, prompting quarantines around the state of Florida.

According to the March 11 statement, sample collection for testing was performed at Tents 3, 6, and 7 at the HITS showgrounds (which all housed horses that ultimately tested positive for EHV-1) with the results anticipated this evening. Additionally, several premises with quarantines outside of the HITS showground also collected samples, the statement said; if tests are negative, farms will be released from quarantines 21 days after their final exposure.

Animal health officials first were alerted of the EHV-1 outbreak when a previous resident of Tent 7 was diagnosed with wild-type EHV-1 on Feb. 21 at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, prompting a quarantine of that tent. The horse, which exhibited neurologic signs associated with EHV-1 infection, remains at the university and is in stable condition, said the March 9 release.

Veterinary monitoring and tracing of exposed horses that had left the show grounds revealed five more horses positive for EHV-1, housed in Tents 3 and 6, which are adjacent to Tent 7 at the HITS facility. "One horse is under quarantine at Redfield Farm in Ocala," noted the March 11 release. "Four horses were placed under quarantine at Miles Away Farm in Loxahatchee. One of these four horses developed neurological signs and was transported to the University of Florida."

On Feb. 27 the entire HITS showgrounds was placed under quarantine, and movement of horses on and off the premises is prohibited. "The quarantine will remain in effect for a minimum of 21 days from the last exposure (Feb. 20)," noted FDACS officials in the release. "Any horse showing febrile, respiratory, or neurologic signs will be tested. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' personnel are manning the gates of the showgrounds 24 hours a day."

Another horse that is linked to the HITS grounds has tested positive for EHV-1 but has not exhibited signs of the disease. This horse is stabled at Calder Farms, in Ocala.

On March 9, the FDACS reported that a horse, residing at POD-F Farm, in Wellington, Fla., which had been housed in Tent 7 at the HITS facility, "completed testing (negative test results) and was released from quarantine 21 days after last date of exposure," officials noted in a release.

Horses that had been stabled in Tents 3, 6, and 7 and moved prior to the HITS quarantine were placed under quarantine around the state. Thirteen Florida premises remained quarantined March 11, including the HITS showgrounds.

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