Florida farms under quarantine over EHV-1

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Location of Ocala in Marion County, Florida.
Location of Ocala in Marion County, Florida.

A total of 13 farms in central and northeast Florida are now under quarantine as state authorities work to ensure an outbreak of equine herpes virus-1 (EHV-1) does not spread.

At last report, seven positive cases had been confirmed in the state.

Six were linked to the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) event in Ocala.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a quarantine order to the entire venue hosting the HITS event and other areas where exposed horses have traveled.

It is understood that hundreds of horses are affected by the quarantine measures.

The first positive case of the virus was referred to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine after showing clinical neurological signs on February 20. The horse is in stable condition and continues to be treated at the university.

Six additional horses have since tested positive. Four are located at Miles Away Farm in Loxahatchee and were linked to the HITS event. One horse is located at Redfield Farm in Ocala and was also linked to the HITS event.

One horse located at Tequestrian Farm in Wellington is not believed to be associated with the HITS event. None of the six most recent cases have shown neurological signs at this time.

With evidence of widespread exposure, the HITS show grounds in Ocala has been placed under quarantine until March 14.

The department has implemented standard protocols for surveillance and quarantine release measures.

Horses under quarantine will be monitored for signs of the virus, including fever and nasal discharge.

The department said it was working with management, trainers and veterinarians on the site to help prevent the further spread of disease.

Other areas where horses exposed to the virus at HITS are currently located are also under quarantine.

EHV-1 is a contagious virus that affects horses and can result in neurological disease, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death.

The virus is spread by direct horse-to-horse contact via the respiratory tract through nasal secretions or contact with physical objects contaminated with the virus. The virus does not affect humans.

Florida agriculture officials urged the equine community to take prudent biosecurity measures to avoid the spread of this or any other disease.


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