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LDAF biosecurity protocols put in place at racetrack

December 30, 2008

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said stringent biosecurity protocols were voluntarily initiated at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans to reduce the exposure potential of racehorses to the non-neuropathogenic strain of equine herpes virus.
The biosecurity protocols were previously established by the Animal Health Division of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and agreed to by the Louisiana Racing Commission and LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.
The protocols were designed to have minimal impact on Fair Grounds’ racing schedule.
Quarantine and biosecurity measures have been in place for Barns 4A and 4B at Fair Grounds since Friday, December 26, after test results confirmed that a thoroughbred filly was infected with equine herpes virus (EHV-1).
EHV-1 is a viral disease that can evolve into a neurological condition.
Experts in EHV-1 have indicated, however, that as many as five percent of horses will normally carry some variant of the virus in their system. Physical symptoms of the EHV-1 virus include fever, upper respiratory infection, nasal discharge, cough, lethargy and loss of appetite.
In severe cases, horses can suffer a loss of coordination and an inability to stand. The illness can be fatal.
The infected filly displayed neurologic symptoms but has since improved following treatment.
Five of the 72 horses housed in Barns 4A and 4B within the last 14 days tested positive for EHV-1.
All horses had two tests performed, one using a nasal swab and the other using a blood sample.
The recommended quarantine period for equine herpes virus is generally up to 21 days after potential exposure to the virus. The five horses that tested positive will be separately quarantined from Barns 4A and 4B and will begin a new 21-day quarantine.  
The five horses will be re-tested on Jan. 5.
Strain said the LDAF protocols include greater biosecurity measures, vaccinations and increased monitoring of health certificates.
Education of EHV-1 symptoms for horse owners, trainers, veterinarians and track officials has also been increased.
The Louisiana procedures are similar to those used by the Kentucky equine industry, which has controlled outbreaks of EHV-1 in recent years, Strain added.
“The LDAF will continue to monitor the situation and assist the Louisiana equine industry in any way possible,” Strain said.