A horse competing at HITS Ocala was referred to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine after showing clinical neurological signs Feb. 20th. The horse subsequently tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), wild-type strain. Currently, the horse is in stable condition and continues to be treated at the University of Florida. There are no additional confirmed cases at this time.
Within hours of the positive diagnosis, an informative meeting was held at HITS Ocala where trainers were encouraged to strengthen their bio-security measures. Diane Kitchen, DVM from the Department of Agriculture, several other veterinarians and Tom Struzzieri from HITS took part in the meeting. Suggested precautions included taking all horses’ temperatures on a regular basis.
Since the infected horse was diagnosed at the hospital, the following has transpired specific to HITS Ocala:
1. The sick horse is stable and his condition has improved.
2. Veterinarians at the horse show, under the watchful eye of Dr. Kitchen, have tested other horses that were either in direct contact with the infected horse, or who had a fever that was noticeably high. HITS is extremely happy to report that all tested samples have been reported negative.
3. The horse show has quarantined all the horses that were stabled in Tent 7, where the originally infected horse was stabled.
4. The horse show has continued and is in full swing. No restrictions on horses coming or going (except to and from the quarantined tent) are in place in any way.
5. No restrictions on horses coming and going across Florida border are in place.
6. As of today, there is a quarantined tent at both Ocala and Wellington. Good bio-security measures are in place and are being strictly enforced in Ocala and will continue through the three remaining weeks of shows.
The Division of Animal Industry has begun a disease investigation, which includes the HITS show grounds in Ocala, the local index farm and multiple premises that have horses that may have been exposed to the positive horse. Currently, there are seven state quarantines in place. These quarantines include the index farm, Tent 7 at HITS and five additional premises in Florida; two farms in the Ocala area, one in Pinellas Park, one in St. Augustine and one in Wellington. At this point in the investigation there are no known exposed horses in other states.
Additional movement requirements or restrictions have not been imposed by Florida or any other states at this time. Horse owners and trainers are advised to contact the venue of destination for any additional requirements prior to travel.
The entire equine community should practice prudent bio-security and report any suspected cases of EHV-1. For reporting, call 850.410.0900 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and 1.800.342.5869 after hours and weekends.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will continue to work with HITS management, trainers and veterinarians to ensure proper safeguards are taken to prevent further spread of the disease.
Frequent informational updates will be provided, so please continue to visit this website regularly.