Horse herpes quarantine locks down Toronto’s Woodbine

Races will go on, but the horses can’t leave, at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack due to a quarantine imposed at the site Wednesday for a serious strain of equine herpes (EHV-1).

According to the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), an unraced two-year-old horse was euthanized Monday after becoming “recumbent with a fever” and showing symptoms of a “potential neurological disease.”

A second horse also came down with fever, showed neurological signs and was moved Tuesday to the Ontario Veterinary College for further evaluation and treatment, the commission said.

OVC is also performing a necropsy on the dead filly, Equine Canada said in a separate release.

Horse owners and caregivers who have had horses at Woodbine Racetrack within the last seven days should monitor their horses for any signs of illness, ORC said Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, there have been five confirmed reports of the neurotrophic form of EHV-1 in thoroughbreds in Barn 1 at Woodbine, the commission said.

Barn 1 was shut down Tuesday morning and no horse is to be allowed in or out of Barn 1 or Barn 3 for at least the next seven days, until June 19, ORC said.

“The barn is under full quarantine, and we’re trying to manage the number of personnel allowed in,” Adam Chambers, ORC’s manager of veterinary services, said in Equine Canada’s release Wednesday.

Chambers added that the quarantine “will probably continue for a number of days, anywhere from 14 to 28 days, depending on whether the disease spreads.”

Horses will not be allowed to ship out of Woodbine without commission approval for at least the next seven days, and those coming onto the grounds will have to remain there until the commission gives the all-clear, Equine Canada said.

The restrictions on shipping “may be reviewed based on the progression of the disease,” ORC said.

Biosecurity measures

Most recently, the ORC in mid-May had banned horses from a training facility at Campbellville and a stable at Les Cedres, Que. from racing in the province due to an EHV-1 outbreak. Those restrictions were lifted as of June 4.

Equine Canada’s health and welfare committee on Wednesday urged industry participants to protect horses from EHV-1 by practising “thorough biosecurity measures” including disinfection of trailers and stabling.

Standardbred horses are not stabled at Woodbine, where the standardbred racing meet concluded on May 20 and moved to Mohawk Raceway on May 23. Saturday’s North American Cup at Mohawk “will not be impacted by these measures,” ORC said Wednesday. — Network

Related stories:
Sask. vet college resumes horse treatments, June 30, 2011
Manitoba urges caution over horse herpes exposure, Oct. 23, 2011

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