Eighteen horses at New Mexico racetrack confirmed with EHV-1

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Equine herpes virus.
The equine herpes virus.

Eighteen horses have now tested positive for equine herpesvirus virus-1 (EHV-1) across 13 barns at New Mexico’s Sunland Park racetrack.

The New Mexico Livestock Board confirmed that one of the ill horses had been euthanized after developing neurological problems.

No movement of horses is being allowed in or out of Sunland Park. Officials with the livestock board, the state racing commission and Sunland Park are working together to resolve the outbreak.

Horses at the racing facility are being monitored for the disease. Animals are being tested for the disease through a nasal swab and/or whole blood as required.

The board said horses in the surrounding area have so far tested negative for EHV-1.

“This is a fluid and rapidly changing situation,” the board said in a statement. It promised to provided regular updates.

Racing at the venue is unlikely to resume until February 12 at the earliest.

EHV-1 is highly contagious and can be spread either directly from horse to horse, or indirectly via human handlers, feed and water buckets, grooming gear, riding tack, and trailers.

Biosecurity measures being taken include isolating horses confirmed to have EHV-1; cleaning and disinfecting any surfaces or items horses may come into contact with; controlling foot traffic within the racetrack; providing plastic boot covers for personnel whose movement around the premises is essential; and sanitizing footwear and clothing.

The temperature of every horse at the track is being taken twice a day and logged, as fever is a major indicator of EHV-1.

Samples are being taken from horses suspected of having the virus.

Those samples are being submitted for testing at New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory in Albuquerque.

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