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Horse Formerly at Monmouth Park Tests Positive While at Ringoes Veterinary Clinic
For Immediate Release: November 3, 2006
Contact: Jeff Beach
(609) 292-5531

(TRENTON) – In an ongoing effort to ensure that the equine herpes virus detected last week at Monmouth Park racetrack does not spread further, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health yesterday issued a quarantine at the Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Clinic in Ringoes, Hunterdon County, after a horse recovering from surgery there tested positive for the equine herpes virus (EHV).

The horse, which had been at Monmouth Park before a quarantine was established at the track on October 27, went to Mid-Atlantic for colic surgery. Mid-Atlantic tested the horse for EHV on October 23 after hearing about concerns at the racetrack, and the results were negative. However, a second test taken earlier this week turned up a positive result.

Consequently, the Department began efforts to identify all horses that came into contact with the horse in question and any horses those horses contacted. In all, those “trace back” and ”trace forward” measures identified 36 horses as of yesterday that were then tested for EHV.

“This case in Ringoes shows the vital importance of quarantines for diseases like equine herpes,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “Just one horse that left Monmouth Park before the quarantine was imposed there has now created the necessity for tests of 36 others. Multiply that by the more than 1,000 horses at the racetrack and you can see how diseases like this can spread exponentially unless quarantine measures are taken.” 

The horse was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery on October 21, six days prior to a quarantine being instituted at Monmouth Park racetrack, where last week more than 1,000 horses were quarantined in the wake of positive test results on at least one horse for the neuropathogenic strain of the equine herpes virus.

The infected horse had minimal contact with other horses at Mid-Atlantic, and 20 exposed or potentially exposed horses at the hospital have been quarantined in isolation barns. One horse that had contact with the infected horse has been relocated to a rehabilitation facility, and that facility has been quarantined as well. All horses at that facility will be tested prior to release from quarantine.

The medical and surgical barns at Mid-Atlantic have been vacated, cleaned and disinfected twice. Under strict biosecurity measures, the hospital will be allowed to continue providing services to patients.

Last week, at least four horses at Monmouth Park were tested for EHV after they began exhibiting fevers. Those four, and other horses at Monmouth Park that had contact with those horses, were separated from the rest of the equine population there and are in designated quarantine barns. All horses in the quarantined barns at the park will not be permitted to move to other facilities until they have shown no indications of the disease for at least 21 days.

The horses not exhibiting signs of the disease, and which did not have contact with horses that were sick, will be permitted to move only to the Meadowlands for racing there, but are not allowed to move to other facilities until they show no signs of the virus for at least 12 days. All movement must be conducted using strict biosecurity measures, such as cleaning and disinfecting transport vehicles both before and after movement of a horse and prohibiting the sharing of equipment between horses unless absolutely necessary.

“This is a very contagious equine disease and we must be extremely careful in allowing possibly infected horses to come into contact with healthy horses,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Halpern said. “The equine industry in New Jersey accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity. Allowing a disease like equine herpes to spread could seriously impact a very vital agricultural sector.  

The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse and can cause respiratory problems especially in young horses, spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic form of the virus can reach high morbidity and mortality rates. The incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2-10 days.