Updated: Horse Tests Positive For EHV-1 At HITS Ocala

Feb 22, 2013 - 6:52 AM
One tent barn at the HITS Ocala showgrounds is under quarantine restrictions, but the remainder of the showgrounds are business as usual. Photo by Molly Sorge

After a horse competing at the HITS Ocala show in Ocala, Fla., tested positive for the neurological form of the equine herpes virus (EHV-1), that horse is in stable condition, the HITS shows in Ocala are continuing as usual with one tent barn in quarantine, the showgrounds at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival had a horse with a suspicious fever that tested negative for EHV-1, and seven state quarantines are in place in Florida. 

The EHV-1-positive horse was shipped from to the nearby University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville on Feb. 21. HITS officials have quarantined the tent barn on the show grounds in which the horse was living. Classes are continuing as usual. Show veterinarians are monitoring horses on the grounds as a precautionary measure and continuing to allow ship-ins that meet normal health entry requirements. Horses are still permitted in and out of Florida borders with a health certificate. 

Read an update on the EHV-1 situation in at HITS Ocala.

Read an update on a suspected EHV-1 case at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival showgrounds in Wellington, Fla.

A press release from the Florida Department of Agriculture released on Feb. 23 indicated seven locations of state-imposed quarantine throughout Florida due to the positive case. “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,” the release stated. “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.  We are advising horse owners and trainers to contact the venue of destination for any additional requirements prior to travel.”

In regard to the situation at the HITS Ocala showgrounds, the original EHV-1-positive case is in stable condition at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Tent 7 remains under quarantine. “We met with the state vet at 7 a.m. [on Feb. 22] and went over what we had and what the situation was. There is no other restriction on horse movement right now, and the show is going on as usual,” said show manager Kristen Vale.

“The standard EHV quarantine duration is 21 days, from what I understood from the vet this morning, so right now, that’s what we’re expecting,” she continued. “We’re watching it and as it is right now, [the veterinarians] are obviously concerned but do not feel that there is an extreme or high risk at the moment.”

Vale said that the show officials had a meeting with trainers to go over biosecurity measures, and she added that no other horse has shown signs of the disease at this time. 

A press release from the Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed that a horse from the HITS Ocala showgrounds had been transferred to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and diagnosed with EHV-1 and that it was the sole confirmed case as of the afternoon of Feb. 22. 

“The Division of Animal Industry has begun a disease investigation, which includes the HITS show grounds in Ocala and the local index farm.  Currently, both the index farm and Tent 7 at HITS are under state quarantine.  HITS management, trainers and veterinarians are cooperating fully to ensure proper safeguards are taken to prevent further spread of the disease,” the press release stated.

“We are asking all those in the equine community to practice prudent bio-security on their farm and to report any suspected cases of EHV-1. For reporting, you may call 850-410-0900 Monday through Friday 8:00am-5:00pm and 1-800-342-5869 after hours and weekends,” the release continued.

Officials at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival released an announcement that they are increasing biosecurity protocols and not allowing horses arriving from Ocala onto FTI WEF properties, including the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the Global Dressage Festival at the Stadium grounds.

The statement said: “Equestrian Sport Productions is taking these precautionary steps necessary for the safety of the horses on the property. There has been no indication of any suspect cases in Wellington. Effective immediately, no horses will be allowed to ship onto the PBIEC property (both WEF and GDF grounds at The Stadium) without a health certificate within 48 hours of arriving. It is mandatory that all horses shipping into the PBIEC (both WEF and GDF grounds at The Stadium) arrive during daylight hours. Unfortunately, we will not be able accept any horses arriving from Ocala onto the property at this time.

“ESP is asking all equestrians, especially those stabling off PBIEC property, to enact biosecurity protocols and be proactive and responsible for their horses, including daily temperature charts. Please do not bring any horses that come from Ocala onto PBIEC property.

“ESP management has contacted all major shippers to inform them of the situation and for them to increase their biosecurity as well. There is currently no restriction on horses leaving the property.”

For more information about EHV-1, please see this FAQ article and this article about biosecurity measures on the website of the American Association of Equine Practioners. 

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