About 450 horses stabled at the Warren County Fairgrounds are under a quarantine declared on Thursday by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The quarantine is one of a handful around the state declared because horses have tested positive for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV).
Still, Miami Valley Gaming in Warren County is expected to hold racing, beginning tonight using horses from other locations in the region not under quarantine.
“You’re not going to get it under control unless they shut down Miami Valley for 21 days,” owner James Schulte said during a meeting Friday at the fairgrounds in Lebanon. “This is a major epidemic.”
State officials advise against moving horses because of the growing number of horses testing positive.
“We want owners to move their horses as little as possible,” said Mark Bruce, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Every time you do you’re putting your horse at risk.”
However, Bruce said the state could not prevent the movement of horses and people necessary to pull off the harness racing meet at the track at the racino in Turtlecreek Twp., just east of the Ohio 63 interchange at Interstate 75.
“Our actions are in step with those taken in nearby states, especially for a virus that does not pose a threat to human health,” Bruce said in an email.
Last week, the state said positive tests had been done on four horses at separate locations around the state, including Endeavor’s Pride, which had raced at Miami Valley Gaming in Warren County twice in January.
The quarantine in Lebanon was called this week after another horse at the fairgrounds, “Believe in the Spirit,” tested with a score high enough to indicate it was “shedding” the virus, Bruce said Friday.
”It’s producing virus that can be contracted by other animals,” he said.
This brings to six the number of quarantines due to positive tests for the virus.
Horses at the University of Findlay farm are under quarantine, but not due to exposure to the horses from Pennsylvania believed to have originally carried the virus into Ohio.
In addition, horses were in quarantine at a building at the veterinary college at The Ohio State University in Columbus, a stable in Ross County and the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds, Bruce said.
In addition, the Larry Finn Stable outside Xenia, where Endeavor’s Pride was stabled, remained under quarantine, he said.
However, Bruce said there had been “no other serious clinical signs.”
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 by 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.