The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has confirmed positive cases of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) in four horses at separate locations around the state, including a horse that raced at Miami Valley Gaming in Warren County twice in January.
“ODA has confirmed two of the positive horses raced at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Penn. Those animals are currently under quarantine at separate facilities. One of the two raced at Miami Valley Gaming near Lebanon January 13 and 24. Testing confirms they have EHV-1 but neither animal is showing clinical signs of illness,” according to an ODA press release issued Friday.
In response to questions, ODA spokesman Mark Bruce said the infected horse, Endeavor’s Pride, raced at the Meadows track on Jan 2 and Jan. 8.
The state veterinarian in Pennsylvania placed Meadows under quarantine for Equine Herpes Virus on Jan. 23, Bruce said.
Miami Valley Gaming then required all horses who had raced there and wanted to race on the Warren County track to get tested for the virus, he added.
The infected horse wanted to race again at Miami Valley and was tested on Jan. 31 and came back positive on Feb. 1, according to Bruce.
“People can’t catch this,” Bruce said. “It is very contagious for other horses.”
The virus can spread through air, meaning horses in adjoining stalls could have been infected, Bruce added.
Officials at Miami Valley Gaming, the racino off the Ohio 63 Interchange at Interstate 75 in Warren County, “had taken some pro-active steps,” Bruce said.
Horses coming from track in Pennsylvania had to be tested for the virus, he said.
Positive tests for the horse came back this week, Bruce said.
“You err on the side of caution,” he said.
There was no additional information available.
Racehorse owners are encouraged to closely monitor health of their animals, according to the press release.
Multiple facilities are under quarantine, while ODA investigates where the infected animals have been and what other animals might have been exposed.
“Racehorse owners should take immediate precautions to protect their animals,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey in the release. “All owners should closely observe their horses for any signs of illness and take their temperatures daily. They should immediately contact their veterinarian if they have any concerns.”
According to the release, two horses at the University of Findlay also tested positive These animals are also not showing clinical symptoms. ODA has placed the facility under quarantine. Currently, the department does not believe these animals are connected to the other positive tests, but epidemiological investigations are underway.
EHV can spread quickly from horse to horse and can cause three different forms of disease: rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease of mostly young horses), abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic disease EHV-1 myeloencephalopathy, which can be fatal to horses.
EHV can be spread through the air or contaminated clothing and equipment. It’s important that horse owners practice strict biosecurity measures in order to protect their animals and prevent any further spread of the disease. Veterinarians may submit nasal swab samples to the ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for testing.
Miami Valley Gaming officials could not be immediately reached.