Possible EHV-1 Cases Have Tracks On-Guard

The racing industry is safeguarding against equine herpesvirus-1 in light of a possible equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., where several horses have developed fevers and are being tested for the illness. New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority's (NJSEA) track officials, who oversee Monmouth and Meadowlands racetracks, have placed restrictions on horses stabled at Monmouth and on horses shipping into the Meadowlands (in Rutherford, N.J.) Several racetracks around the country have issued statements that horses that have been stabled at Monmouth will not be permitted on their grounds.

Horses at Monmouth cannot be moved off the premises, with the exception of horses that will be shipped to the Meadowlands for racing. "Horses that ship into the Meadowlands for racing will need to ship to Monmouth after they have raced and remain with the general population of horses there for 12 days (the incubation period for the virus is six to 10 days)," said a statement from NJSEA officials.

Dennis Dowd, NJSEA's senior vice president, said in the statement, "It is an unconfirmed case, but nonetheless it requires the most restrictive and diligent course of action possible. After meeting with veterinarians and horsemen today it was agreed that this course of action was the most optimal in ensuring the protection of everyone who could be affected."

Two horses from Canada arrived late last week in Monmouth's stable area with all required veterinary certificates for entry. However, one horse spiked a fever after arrival and was treated accordingly. Five horses in that barn all developed a fever, and the barn was quarantined. Dowd reported that Monmouth and Meadowlands staff have disinfected "all areas from the starting gate to individual stalls."

Dowd underscored that the case remains unconfirmed and tests on the five horses with fevers will be returned this week. "None of the horses that were tested showed outward symptoms of the equine herpesvirus," he continued. "We are just taking every precautionary measure possible and until we have definitive results we don't want to place any unnecessary restrictions on horsemen that intend on running here."

Meadowlands racing will proceed as scheduled tomorrow afternoon, and there are no restrictions on Monmouth training, with exception of the quarantined horses.

EHV-1 can cause respiratory or neurologic signs in all ages, breeds, and sexes of horses and abortion in pregnant mares. The neurologic form can debilitate the horse until it is unable to stand, and many times it must be euthanatized. Herpes can be spread through nose-to-nose contact by nasal secretions, but also via shared buckets, equipment, and handlers.

EHV-1 often causes respiratory disease that makes the horse spike a fever. With the neurologic form, the fever is often very high, but the horse might not show many, if any, clinical signs of respiratory disease. The horse can seem to be fine for a week, but the horse spikes another fever, followed by onset of neurologic signs. Sometimes a neurologic EHV-1 horse shows clinical signs of respiratory disease leading up to the neurologic signs, and sometimes he doesn't.

The neurologic form of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) was diagnosed in at least five different states in January and February of this year. While many of the cases were detected at racetracks, it is important to note that this not a disease limited to the racing industry--any horse facility can be affected by this illness. Using stringent biosecurity measures is the best way to help ensure that the virus does not emerge or spread at a facility or farm.

For more information on EHV-1, click here for a free PDF library of related articles including images, or click here for all archived EHV-1 articles on this web site.

Other Tracks Take Precautions
Penn National Race Course, in Grantville, Pa., which encountered EHV-1 in January of this year, is one track that has announced it's protecting its population. A memorandum released by Penn National officials this morning (Oct. 23) said, "Based on a report that several horses stabled at Monmouth Park are being tested for possible cases of EHV 1, Penn National Race Course will not accept entries from any horses stabled at Monmouth Park effective Monday, October 23." The track was also restricting horses racing at the Meadowlands race meet in Rutherford, N.J. from returning to the Penn National stables.

Penn National officials recommended that trainers who have raced at Meadowlands in the past two weeks watch their horses closely

Calder Race Course in Miami, Fla., has enacted a policy that requires incoming horses to be accompanied by and listed on a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) that has been signed and dated by a veterinarian within 72 hours of arrival at the track. The CVI must assure that the horse has not "originated from, nor been stabled on, a premises which has had herpes virus (EHV-1)" diagnosed in the previous 30-day period. Arriving horses also must be vaccinated against EHV-1 within 14 days and a maximum of 90 days prior to entry into the track's stable area.

Calder's veterinarian, Mary Scollay, DVM, said in a release from Calder that the measures were intended to protect the health of horses in Florida and those that are Florida-bound for the winter. Calder's sister racetrack, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and its training center in Boynton Beach, Palm Meadows, have each adopted these restrictions.

Philadelphia Park has shut its gates to New Jersey shippers, and any horses that leave Philly Park to run at Meadowlands will not be allowed back in. The same restrictions apply to Delaware Park.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners