Grade I winner Gun Runner is among those quarantined.
An EHV-1 outbreak at Fair Grounds Race Track in Louisiana has forced the track into quarantine, meaning that no horses may ship in and no horses may leave the facility. On December 29, 2016, Barn #14 was placed under quarantine after an unraced two-year-old filly was euthanized earlier that week with an infection found later to be EHV-1. Eight horses believed to have been exposed to the virus had been moved from the area prior to quarantine; seven of those horses are still at Fair Grounds but the eighth has not yet been found.
EHV-1 can present in four different ways in horses, including a neurological form, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death. One of the first symptoms of the respiratory form is a fever, so quarantined barns are checking temperatures several times a day. The virus is transmitted through direct contact between horses, as well as indirectly through contact with physical objects used on or near an infected horse, such as tack, feeding and grooming equipment or human contact and clothing. The neurological form presents quickly and it is often this form that requires a horse to be euthanized. There is no vaccine for EHV-1. The AAEP’s resources on EHV and EHV-1 are full of information in an easy-to-understand format.
As of January 3, a total of five horses at Fair Grounds have tested positive for EHV-1, both the neurologic and non-neurologic strains. Individual barns placed under a minimum 14-day quarantine include Barns 14, 36 and 47 as well as the receiving barn. Horses in these barns are not permitted to race, though they may train during special hours designated only for the affected barns. Horses testing positive for EHV-1 have been isolated. Racing continues at Fair Grounds for unaffected horses, though the facility-wide ban on shipping in or out remains in place.
Delta Downs, also in Louisiana, has placed a movement restriction on its horses; multiple states have imposed restrictions on Louisiana-based racehorses.
Grade I winner Gun Runner, whose connections were considering negotiations for the January 28 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in Florida, is now “grounded” for the foreseeable near future. The colt is part of Steve Asmussen’s Fair Grounds training string, and while he is not directly under barn quarantine for exposure to EHV-1, he cannot ship out of Fair Grounds until the movement ban is lifted — making his chances at shipping to Gulf Stream look fairly bleak.