On March 3 the Equine Disease Communication Center confirmed that one horse in Marion County, Florida, was diagnosed with Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, the neurologic form of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1).
The 8-year-old warmblood mare, who was diagnosed at a boarding facility, started showing neurological signs on March 1, then subsequently tested positive for EVH-1, neurotrophic strain. As of March 3 the horse continues to be treated in a separate isolation facility. According to a press release from the EDCC, a total of 53 horses were exposed, but no additional EHV-1 cases have been detected. The Florida Division Of Animal Industry placed the premises under quarantine and immediately began a disease investigation.
The World Equestrian Center—Ocala sent out a letter to exhibitors confirming that there has been a case in the Ocala area, but that there have been no cases at the WEC facility as of March 3.
“As we continue to closely monitor the situation, the World Equestrian Center management recommends that all exhibitors follow a heightened hygiene protocol, adding extra precautions to prevent any issues from arising at the horse show,” stated the letter.
“World Equestrian Center—Ocala will continue to observe proper biosecurity protocols and disinfect the barns and property on a regular basis. All stalls are fully disinfected weekly as they are turned over between barns,” the letter continued.
HITS Ocala office manager Kristen Vale-Mosack confirmed there are no cases of EHV-1 on that showgrounds either as of March 3.
“While there have been reports of sick horses nearby here in Ocala, we have been fortunate enough to have avoided this EHV calamity as of this date,” said HITS President Tom Struzzieri. “We are actively monitoring the arrival of horses from certain properties and limiting their entering the show grounds. We have a very strong memory of 2013 when Post Time was the facility that proved to be the lightning rod for a run of this very serious virus and believe that we have learned a great deal, as horsemen, from that experience and hope that this prior education helps us as we go forward.”
A press release from the U.S. Equestrian Federation noted the horse was not shipped from Europe and not on showgrounds when symptoms were noted.
“USEF is working closely with the Florida Department of Agriculture and state authorities who are completing contact tracing and identifying the potential source of the virus exposure,” the release stated. “The affected horse is in isolation at a vet clinic, and horses who may have potentially been exposed have been quarantined. USEF is working closely with competition organizers and veterinarians to ensure we are taking steps to proactively manage and contain the virus in the U.S.
“USEF fully supports any restrictive measures implemented by competition organizers,” the release continued. “USEF stresses the importance of restricting movement of horses for the next several days while the situation is further evaluated, particularly in the state of Florida.”
A press release sent from the Winter Equestrian Festival on March 2 noted there are no cases of EHV-1 in the Wellington area at this time.
A March 3 press release from The Ridge show management company, which runs horse shows at its Wellington farm and other locations throughout the Wellington area, clarified that there have been no EHV-1 cases at The Ridge Farm.
The Fédération Equestre Internationale has canceled all events in mainland Europe until March 28 because of an EHV-1 outbreak there.
In light of the positive EHV-1 case, several winter circuits have issued updated travel restrictions or biosecurity protocols including World Equestrian Center—Ocala (travel restrictions and precautionary biosecurity measures), the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Gulf Coast Winter Classics (Mississippi).