December 2008

Tis the season for holiday cheer and, unfortunately, for neurologic equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) as well. The most recent EHV-1 victim was a filly, trained by King Leatherbury stabled in Laurel Park’s Barn 1.

After the filly first showed neurological signs of EHV-1 on November 12, a hold order was placed on Laurel Park. The only horses allowed into Laurel during the hold order were those from the Bowie Training Center being transported using Maryland Jockey Club shuttles. Since the filly’s condition had not improved by November 15, the owner decided to euthanize her.

All 26 horses that were stabled in Barn 1 and 31 lead ponies were tested as well, using Maryland’s new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing machine. Just two days after the first horses were tested, PCR results showed all but the filly to be negative. By November 18, just seven days after the hold order was given, results from all 57 horses came back negative and no more horses at Laurel Park have shown signs of EHV-1. As of press time, in accordance with standard protocol, which requires a 21-day hold order from the last day of clinial evidence of EHV-1, the hold order on Laurel Park has not been lifted. The current release date is December 6.

Before the Laurel Park filly’s illness, two other barns in Maryland had EHV-1 scares the first week of November. Thankfully those hold orders were lifted when all horses tested came back with negative results.