On the evening of Feb. 26, a horse who had shown on the HITS Post Time Farm showgrounds in Ocala, Fla., tested positive for EHV-1. This is the second horse connected with the HITS Ocala grounds to test positive . The entire HITS Ocala showgrounds are under quarantine as of the afternoon of Feb. 27, but the horse show continues to run as usual.
“The state veterinarians were absolutely involved in the decisions; we started talking last night with them about the options,” said HITS Ocala show manager Kristen Vale.
“What they were trying to decide was how to quarantine and what areas to quarantine, but they felt that the horse show could go on. They ultimately decided to quarantine the whole grounds in that no horses may leave. Clearly, we’re trying to get the horses who are coming in to come in now and with documentation of where they came from so they can be traceable.”
The original index Ocala case, which tested positive on Feb. 21 , is still recovering and in stable condition at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla.
The second case is still housed at the Ocala farm of Emil Spadone, off the HITS showgrounds. That farm is also under quarantine. The horse had shown at HITS on Feb. 18-20, then returned to its off-grounds home. “It had a fever, so they tested a few horses at that farm and this one came back positive,” Vale said.
“This one didn’t show any neurological signs, just a fever. Both cases really are only showing respiratory symptoms. The first horse showed some neurological signs, but they think it might have gotten cast in the stall and that caused the neurological signs,” Vale continued.
The index case had been housed in Tent 7 on the HITS Ocala showgrounds; the new positive case had been housed in Tent 6 during its stay on the grounds. “They had no direct contact that we know of,” Vale said. “They were at opposite ends of the tents and not near each other. That doesn’t mean the cases couldn’t be related, but they were not stabled next to each other.”
HITS management has asked that horses stabled in Tent 6 not show, though they will re-evaluate that directive in the days to come.
A Florida Department of Agriculture press release indicates that in addition to the positive test case at Spadone's Redfield Farm in Ocala, five other positive cases have been identified in the Wellington, Fla., area. "Four are located at Miles Away Farm in Loxahatchee, Fla. One horse not believed to be linked with any of the HITS-associated quarantined premises has also been positive for EHV-1. This horse is located at Tequestrian Farm in Wellington, Fla.," the release reads.
"None of the six new positive horses have exhibited neurological symptoms at this time. While the additional positive horses were detected after leaving the showgrounds, they resided in Tent 3 and Tent 6 in proximity to Tent 7 which housed the index case. With evidence of more widespread exposure, all of the horses at the HITS showgrounds have been placed under quarantine. The Division of Animal Industry is continuing their disease investigation and developing protocols for surveillance and quarantine release measures. An Incident Command Team comprised of state and federal personnel is being mobilized to implement appropriate control measures."
· HITS Showgrounds, Ocala – Entire facility
· Up Country Farm/Synergy Farm, Ocala
· Montera Farm, Ocala
· Flutterby Farm, Ocala
· Foxwood Farms, Pinellas Park
· Black Forest Farm, St. Augustine
· Littlewood Farm, Wellington
· Brookmore Farm, Oviedo
· Kings Ridge Farm, Reddick
New Quarantined Premises:
• FEI Tent at Wellington Showgrounds
• Tequestrian Farm, Wellington
• Redfield Farm, Ocala
• Miles Away Farm, Loxahatchee