Lab tests confirmed at least three horses stabled at Vernon Downs Raceway in New York have been infected with a strain of the Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 (EHV-1). The horses were stalled in two barns at the track, both of which have since been quarantined.
EHV-1 is an airborne viral infection which can cause respiratory disease, abortion in broodmares, death in newborn foals and a neurological form of herpes. The virus does not affect people.
Due to its condition and prognosis, a Standardbred was humanely euthanized. The other two horses are under quarantine in two barns at the racetrack.
As of May 6, no other horses at racetracks within the state have reported to have horses with EHV-1.
If your horse has been at Vernon Downs in the past two weeks, or you believe your horse has been potentially exposed to EHV-1, the following guidelines are recommended:
– Check your horse’s temperature twice a day for ten days. If the temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, contact your veterinarian immediately.
– If you wish to test your horse, consult your veterinarian. At this time, the preferred test is PCR analysis performed on nasal swab specimens. Blood samples may also be tested.
– The decision to test a horse not showing signs of disease should not be taken lightly. Due to the ubiquitous nature of EHV-1, many horses will test positive for presence of the virus and not develop the disease. Also, a single negative test has limited value in demonstrating whether or not a horse will become ill or may be shedding the virus.
Since Saturday, May 4, live racing at Vernon Downs has been canceled and will continue to be as the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the State Gaming Commission and track management work to assess and contain the outbreak. No horses are permitted to ship in or out of the facility.
Vernon Downs’ management, horse owners, and their veterinarians are taking responsible measures to limit spread and the Gaming Commission and Department of Agriculture and Markets are working with them to investigate and contain the illness.
Nearly all horses will be exposed to EHV-1 at some point in their lifetime and horse owners should always be cautious when introducing new horses to their stables. The disease is difficult to detect as it takes on a wide range of manifestations, from a complete lack of clinical symptoms to pneumonia to abortion in mares to full-blown neurological cases.