The quarantine of Fair Grounds Race Course imposed due to an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) could be lifted as early as Jan. 21, the State of Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry announced in a release Wednesday. The last detected case of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM)–the more progressed form of the virus–was discovered Dec. 31, 2016. Horses continue to be monitored for both EHM and EHV-1 and, if no new cases are discovered by Jan. 21, phasing out of the quarantine will begin with the 42 Fair Grounds barns in which horses never showed signs of the virus.
“We are encouraged that the disease seems to be contained,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “These measures were taken for the health and safety of all horses in the state. We continue to work with the Fair Grounds and Racing Commission to ensure that biosecurity measures will be maintained.”
A total of 39 horses and one barn remain in isolation. Horses who have tested positive for EHV-1 will remain isolated until their tests come back negative, while horses who were exposed but never tested positive will be released on a case-by-case basis.
“After consulting with the state veterinarian, USDA Veterinary Services, LSU and outside experts on infectious diseases, we feel this is a logical plan to allow the release of unaffected horses, Strain added. “The horses that remain in isolation are most at risk. We will continue to monitor these horses until they are in the clear. However, should there be another case of EHV-1 or EHM, we will respond accordingly.”