Officials at the New York Racing Association and New York State Gaming Commission have received confirmation that one horse residing in Barn 44 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, has tested positive for equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1).
The horse, an unnamed, unraced 3-year-old male, was sent to the nearby Cornell Ruffian Equine Hospital after developing a fever and a mild respiratory issue. On Tuesday (Jan. 9) afternoon, he tested positive for EHV-1.
The horse, trained by Linda Rice, has shown no neurologic signs.
He remains at the Ruffian Center for observation and is scheduled to return to Belmont in the coming days, where he will be put into quarantine in an isolated barn as a precautionary measure. The horse will be closely monitored and subsequently retested.
In conjunction with the New York State Veterinarian and New York State Gaming Commission officials, the New York Racing Association is taking immediate, proactive steps to eliminate any additional exposure.
As a precaution, all horses in Barn 44 have been placed under quarantine, where they will be monitored daily for fever and other signs of illness. All horses exposed to the affected horse are afebrile and asymptomatic. During the initial quarantine process, these horses will not be permitted to run or enter races. They will have isolated training hours following the normal closure of the training track at 10:30 a.m.
Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form). In many horses, fever is the only sign of EHV-1 infection, which can go undetected.
In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months), but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.
Horses with the neurologic form usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.