Florida EHV-1: Another Farm Quarantine Lifted

Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) officials have lifted quarantine on a Wellington farm housing a horse that had previously shared Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) show stabling in Ocala with an animal testing positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1).

In a March 9 release, FDACS reported that the horse, residing at POD-F Farm, in nearby Wellington, had never tested positive or developed clinical signs of the disease. The horse, 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 the release. 

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 the 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 9 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 (February 20th),” noted FDACS officials in the release. “Any horse showing febrile, respiratory, or neurological 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.

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 9:

  • HITS Showgrounds, Ocala – Entire facility
  • Up Country Farm/Synergy Farm, Ocala 
  • Montera Farm, Ocala 
  • Flutterby Farm, Ocala 
  • Foxwood Farms, Pinellas Park 
  • Black Forest Farm, St. Augustine 
  • Brookmore Farm, Oviedo 
  • Kings Ridge Farm, Reddick 
  • Redfield Farm, Ocala 
  • Miles Away Farm, Loxahatchee 
  • Calder Farms, Ocala
  • Hard Ford Farm, Reddick 
  • Chestnut Hill Farm (Wisconsin based farm, Ocala temporary location)

Animal health officials still are recommending that owners or caretakers of horses showing at HITS since Feb. 5 keep a close eye on their horses, report fevers greater than 101.5 to a veterinarian immediately, and to abide by strict biosecurity measures for at least 21 days after HITS departure date. 

They also advised owners transporting horses to call ahead to determine restrictions on arrivals, noting that “several equestrian events have instituted additional requirements for horses entering the show/competition. These may include shortened dating of Certificates of Veterinary Inspection or specific vaccination requirements.”

Equine herpesvirus-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids and is generally spread via aerosol transmission (when infected animals sneeze and cough) and through contact with nasal secretions from infected animals. The disease can cause a variety of problems in horses, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form).

Fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence are signs of EHM. If a horse that has possibly been exposed to EHV-1 begins to display any of the aforementioned signs, call your veterinarian immediately. 

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.

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