Racing suspended at New Mexico track due to equine herpesvirus outbreak
Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, a horse racing track located near the border of New Mexico and Texas, has suspended its season for at least 14 days effective January 22 when five horses were confirmed positive for neurologic equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), according to TheHorse.com.
There are several strains of EHV; according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), EHV-1 is one of two most common strains and can cause four types of disease in horses, including neurological signs, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death. EHV-1 is contagious and spread through contact: either directly from horse to horse or indirectly via human handlers, feed and water buckets, grooming gear, riding tack and trailers.
In a statement to El Paso news channel KVIA, Rick Baugh, general manager of Sunland Park Racetrack, said the track would postpone live racing for an initial period of 14 days, in the interest of the horses' safety.
The El Paso Times reports that as of January 26 there have been 12 confirmed cases of the virus. Those horses remain in isolation, along with two other horses that have shown symptoms of the virus. A statement from Sunland Park indicates that the first affected horse was a 5-year-old thoroughbred mare that was been euthanized after becoming ill.
According to the AAEP, prevention of further outbreak centers around two methods: vaccination and biosecurity. KVIA reports that biosecurity measures have been taken at Sunland Park, and samples are being taken from horses suspected of having the virus. The samples will be tested at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory in Albuquerque.