February 7th, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

Kentucky EHV: Quarantine at Oldham County Facility Released

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

The final equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) quarantine in Oldham County, Kentucky, has been released from quarantine.

In a Feb. 3 statement, E.S. “Rusty” Ford, equine programs manager for the Kentucky State Veterinarian’s Office, said horses residing at the premises, which was quarantined Jan. 11, were retested for the virus last week.

“The final results reported (Feb. 3) provides that each horse in the barn has tested negative on both nasal swabs and whole blood,” he said. “Having been greater than 14 days post-exposure with daily observation and monitoring detecting no abnormal findings, and each horse now having two negative sets of results, the Kentucky Office of State Veterinarian has released the quarantine … and the horses are under no further restrictions.

Meanwhile, quarantines remain in place at two Kentucky Thoroughbred facilities in an unrelated EHV-1 situation.

Horses at Keeneland Race Course’s Rice Road Training Center, in Lexington, and Turfway Park, in Florence, continue to be monitored closely, Ford said.

[brightcove videoid=”3027535698001″ title=”Health Alert: Equine Herpesvirus”]

“Sample collection and testing of the horses in each of the barns is being scheduled and planned for (this) week,” he said.

Herpesvirus is highly contagious among horses and can cause a variety of ailments in equids, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form). In many horses, fever is the only sign of EHV-1 infection, which can go undetected.

In addition to fever, other common signs of EHV-1 infection in young horses include cough, decreased appetite, depression, and a nasal discharge. Pregnant mares typically show no signs of infection before they abort, and abortions usually occur late in gestation (around eight months), but can be earlier. Abortions can occur anywhere from two weeks to several months following infection with EHV-1.

Horses with the neurologic form usually have a fever at the onset of the disease and might show signs of a respiratory infection. A few days later, neurologic signs such as ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the fore- and hind limbs, urine retention and dribbling, loss of tail tone, and recumbency (inability to rise) develop.

Attention Horsemen !!!

February 2nd, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

As most are aware, due to internal problems with the R.I.C.F. we have not had a dentist for a bit over a month and no doctor for over a year.

The Executive Director of the R.I.C.F. came down to the track yesterday from Chicago, he informed me that they are making arrangements for a new dentist and hopefully a doctor to start here at Fairmount soon.  They tell me all should be in place before the meet begins.

EHV-1

February 2nd, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione
Progress, but No Victory, in Battle Against EHV-1
by Heather Smith Thomas
Date Posted: 2/1/2017 6:00:00 AM
Last Updated: 2/1/2017 11:59:22 AM

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots races under a quarantine earlier this year after an EHV-1 outbreak.
Photo: Hodges Photography

Recent EHV-1 (Equine herpesvirus 1) outbreaks have again focused attention on this nasty disease.

* On Nov. 3, 2016, a horse at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in California developed a fever and his barn was quarantined. On Nov. 9 he tested positive for EHV-1. In the days that followed 15 cases were confirmed and one horse was euthanized. That quarantine was recently lifted—after 2 1/2 months.

* A 2-year-old filly at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans was euthanized and three barns on the premises quarantined in an outbreak that began Dec. 26. Those horses were all tested, with temperatures monitored twice daily. Three more horses tested positive Jan. 10, after testing negative three days earlier. New cases start the mandatory two-week quarantine again; a quarantine is not lifted until affected horses are no longer shedding the virus and there are no new cases.

^ On Jan. 21 in Lexington a horse tested positive at Keeneland, where two barns have been quarantined and all of those horses are being tested and monitored. There also were positives at Turfway Park and a training center in the state. Kentucky has placed restrictions on racehorses coming from Louisiana.

WHY THE CONCERN?
There are several types of equine herpesviruses, and some are more damaging than others. EHV-1 can cause respiratory illness, abortion in pregnant mares, congenital infection (birth of weak foals), and sometimes a more severe (potentially fatal) illness involving the nervous system. This form is called EHM, equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy.

Historically the neurologic form has been rare, but recent years have seen an increase in EHM cases and outbreaks in North America, as well as in other parts of the world, at racetracks, and in horses attending other events—congregating from various areas.

Dr. Gillian Perkins, of Cornell University in New York, said equine herpesvirus is common in horses. Most horses are carriers.

“They are usually infected early in life; the virus becomes latent, hiding in the body, and undetectable,” she said. “It may recur or break out again and become active during periods of stress but we can’t always determine why it comes out of latency.”

WHY IS IT A CHALLENGE TO CONTAIN?
Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz of Colorado State University, said herpesviruses have many ways to avoid the immune system. They can hide in white blood cells/lymph nodes and remain untouched by the body’s usual response to infection.

“We don’t currently have a vaccine or a biosecurity method to prevent initial infection of young horses,” she said. “None of our vaccines can keep foals from getting infected in a herd environment. They may get it from their dam if she is shedding this virus out of her nose. Some shedders are perfectly healthy, normal-appearing horses, and you wouldn’t know they are carrying and shedding the virus.

“None of our vaccines can prevent reactivation of the virus or completely prevent infection,” she continued. “Most horses are exposed and infected at a young age. The virus continues to live in the body, in a form the body does not recognize as foreign. If the virus becomes active again, it can be shed through the nose—to expose other horses.”

The shedding horse may develop signs of disease at that time, but may not.

“It is difficult to control this disease when we don’t have a vaccine or biosecurity method to prevent the initial infection or to prevent reactivation and shedding,” Traub-Dargatz said. “We need to work toward reducing the severity of clinical disease if it occurs, reduce the shedding, and try to reduce exposure of horses to a shedding horse.

“We don’t have a good way to detect the silent shedder—the horse with no signs of illness—but many outbreaks begin with a clinical case. Recognizing the first horse that has signs of disease, and finding out it is shedding (diagnostic testing), and then trying to reduce exposure of other horses to that horse is our best containment method at this time.”

Test results may take a day or two, so actions need to be taken before that to prevent possible exposure of other horses while we wait for results.

The virus can sometimes be spread in other ways and not just direct horse-to-horse contact. It could be carried from one horse to another by people handling the infected horse and then touching another horse.

Dr. Nicola Pusterla at the University of California Davis has sampled clothing, hands, tack, equipment, etc. after people have been caring for an EHV-1 case and detected DNA of the virus on those surfaces.

The virus particles can be spread through the air, depending on humidity, air temperature and environment. “In a barn with fans blowing air from one end to the other, if the virus-shedding horse is on the intake end of the fan, this would blow the virus farther than it could go on still air,” Traub-Dargatz explained.

WHAT WE LEARN FROM OUTBREAKS
“EHV-1 crops up every year,” Perkins said. “It is reported more often, possibly because it has become a reportable disease in many states, so they can keep track of it and contain it by closing down barns and facilities, using quarantine to halt the spread. If our diagnostic lab at Cornell gets a sample that tests positive for equine herpesvirus, the lab informs the state. In addition, media coverage is quick to report it; there are news items in equine publications and e-mail alerts.”

Today horsepeople quickly know where and when the disease shows up; there is more awareness among horse owners about EHV-1 than in earlier years.

“When it cropped up in Ogden, Utah, at the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championship show in 2011, people didn’t know much about EHV-1,” Perkins said. “Some horses got sick toward the end of the show, but everybody took their horses home (to multiple states), and some unknowingly took the disease with them. After this incident, many horseshow and racetrack facilities developed biosecurity measures and a plan to deal with this disease if something like this happens.”

“In 2008 we interviewed veterinarians to create a report, focusing on lessons learned at that point,” Traub-Dargatz said. “We recommend that facilities have a place to move infected horses—away from the rest—as quickly as possible, and a plan for where they would put a neurologic horse to isolate it and provide veterinary care and treatment. It’s also important to limit how many people are going in and out of the area since every contact is a potential risk. Well-meaning people may not do the right thing when they leave the stall or barn. Also, make sure everyone on the containment team understands what needs to be done.”

In the first day or two it is important to have enough people asking where these horses went, making phone calls, making sure they don’t come into contact with other horses, and getting quarantines in place as quickly as possible.

Outbreaks have taught us more about how to help keep the virus from spreading.

“It involves basic biosecurity,” said Pusterla. “Outbreaks like the one at Ogden cannot be prevented. When you bring more than 400 horses under the same roof from all over the country, with minimal biosecurity protocols, it is just a matter of when and where this disease will strike. We are seeing more outbreaks because events are getting bigger; more people are bringing horses from various regions.

“What we have learned from earlier outbreaks includes what not to do—learning from our mistakes,” he continued. “We have increased awareness about biosecurity and factors that could predispose horses to developing neurological disease. If we apply this information, it will help. The problem is that people become complacent again—until the next outbreak happens.

“After these outbreaks we realize the vaccines currently available are not optimal,” Pusterla said. “We need new technology and new vaccines. So far, there is no vaccine labeled for the prevention of neurological disease, and the vaccines for preventing EHV-1 respiratory disease or abortion are simply aids; they will not prevent these 100%.”

GENETIC DIFFERENCES IN THE VIRUS
Numerous strains of EHV-1 (equine herpesvirus 1) exist in nature. A number of studies show that neurologic disease is more frequently associated with EHV-1 strains of a certain mutant genotype rather than the “wild” type of this virus, but one survey has shown that 14% of all neurologic cases of the disease were associated with the “wild” strains.

Researchers are trying to learn more about the different genetic types. Dr. Udeni Balasuriya (professor of virology, Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky) is investigating genetic diversity among EHV-1 isolates from outbreaks of neurologic disease. With enough samples he can identify and compare viruses.

“I don’t believe that a single mutation is the sole determinant of neurologic disease in horses,” Balasuriya said. “Studies have shown that in outbreaks there can be both genetic types.”

We know that a certain percentage of neurologic cases are associated with the “wild” type.

The laboratory at Gluck has also isolated EHV-1 of the neuropathologic type (some of which contain additional mutations) from horses that did not develop neurologic signs. The goal of this study is to clarify the relationship between neurologic disease and genetically specific strains of EHV-1, and determine whether additional mutations in the virus’ genes influence development of neurologic disease.

Balasuriya’s study aims to clarify the relationship between the genetic type of the virus and the frequency and severity of neurologic disease in horses, and identify additional mutations that could be involved.

“This information is needed to enable us to design improved diagnostic assays, vaccines, and medications (for treating horses with the neurologic form of the disease) in the future,” Balasuriya said.

CURRENT RESEARCH
“Several groups are looking at anti-viral medications,” Perkins said. “These medications are still not proven to make a difference once the horse is neurologic. Primary treatment for a horse with EHV-1 is supportive. This involves rest, keeping the horse hydrated, using Banamine to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. The research investigating various antiviral drugs may help guide future treatment.

“A lot of the work we did on equine EHV-1 a few years ago looked at the neurologic form of the virus,” she said. “There is a diagnostic test that can differentiate between the neurologic and the non-neurologic (wild) form, looking at genetic makeup of the virus. We know both forms of the virus can cause neurologic disease, however, so it is important to take biosecurity precautions no matter which virus is found. A lot of emphasis has been put on dangers of the neurologic strain, but people need to remember that the non-neurologic strain is also dangerous and can sometimes cause neurologic disease as well.”

Pusterla noted different genotypes have different genetic makeup.

“Researchers determined the entire genome sequence of two different prototype strains,” he said. “One strain was associated with neurological disease, causing EHM. They also sequenced the entire genome of an EHV-1 strain associated with respiratory disease and abortion. They found a small percentage of area of divergence within the genome of these two EHV-1 viruses relevant to the virulence of these viruses, but it’s not black and white.”

There is a gray area in which neurologic disease can be caused by either genotype.

“EHV-1 can cause a variety of clinical diseases such as rhinopneumonitis, neonatal death, abortion, and EHM,” Pusterla said. “The most common disease form is a self-limiting disease of the upper respiratory tract (rhinopneumonitis). The other disease forms are less frequent but have greater impact for the infected animals.”

People need to understand that it’s not just about the virus when it comes to disease. It also depends on the environment and the host horse (age, gender, breed, stress factors, etc.).

“This is a multi-factorial disease; there is variable susceptibility among the population,” Pusterla explained.

“In recent years there has been an impression that we are dealing with a more powerful, mutant of EHV-1 with larger outbreaks. In reality, the less pathogenic one originated from the more pathogenic older virus.”

A virus that kills the host is less likely to continue transmitting in the host population. A virus is better off to co-exist with the host. The less virulent one has a selective advantage and is widespread and dormant in the lymph nodes and certain nerves.

“When we screen horses, we find that the majority are infected with N752 (which is less damaging), and the minority are infected with D752,” he said. “This is good news and explains why most of the outbreaks are self-limiting and not associated with neurological disease. The disease form following infection with EHV-1 is difficult to predict, however, based on genotype only.”

Research goals are for development of a new vaccine for EHV-1 and evaluation of efficacy of current vaccines against EHM. Horsepeople are hoping for a vaccine that would prevent latency of EHV-1 and the neurologic form.

Copyright © 2017 Blood-Horse, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Attention Horsemen !!!

February 1st, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

The water will be off beginning at 8:00 AM this morning (2/1/2017) in order to repair a leak.

Reminder !!!

January 30th, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

REMINDER !!!

General Membership Meeting is TONIGHT , January 30th at 6:00 PM on the 2nd floor of the grandstand near the paddock in the horsemen’s section.  Hope to see everyone there !!!!

Attention Horsemen !!!

January 23rd, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

Some sad news to report, Donna Rosie Mosier, wife of Trainer/Owner Harry Mosier has passed away.  She will be sadly missed by all who knew her.  I will post arrangements when available.

Attention Horsemen !!!

January 22nd, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

One barn at Turfway Park and two at Keeneland are quarantined and the horses residing within them are being tested after a filly that left Turfway Park for a breeding farm tested positive for the wild-type strain of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1).

An email release issued by Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager for the Office of the State Veterinarian in Kentucky, said the affected filly is in isolation on a private farm in Kentucky.

Although the affected filly came from Turfway and not Keeneland, the barns at Keeneland were quarantined after officials analyzed movement records of horses shipping from the barns at Keeneland and the barn where the filly resided at Turfway, the release said. Test results from the quarantined horses at Turfway are not expected until late Monday.

The quarantine, issued early Saturday morning, temporarily restricts horses to their barns, preventing training or racing – which led to scratches on Saturday night’s card at Turfway, including The Great War, who had been the morning-line favorite in that evening’s Forego Stakes.

Wesley Ward, one of four trainers with quarantined horses in barn 27 at Turfway, said none of his horses is showing signs of sickness or running temperatures.

The wild-type strain of the equine herpesvirus is far less dangerous than neuropathogenic strain. It is endemic in horse populations, and typically produces nothing more than mild illness. Seemingly healthy horses can also test positive for it.

This latest positive test for equine herpesvirus follows positive tests at Fair Grounds in Louisiana and two locations in Oldham County, Ky., one of which was Highpointe Training Center, a facility from which horses often ship to Turfway to race.

After the discovery of the equine herpesvirus there, proactive measures were implemented at Turfway earlier this year to decrease the chance of it spreading. Because of these measures, Ford states in his email release, “we are optimistic our efforts will pay a dividend and that we have minimized risk of disease transmission on the backside.”

Even stricter protocols are now in place after the latest discovery, with Turfway requiring all ship-in horses to have health certificates from a veterinarian within 24 hours of their arrival to the track, down from the 72-hour timeframe that had been the rule.

“We want people to have a lot of confidence that things are being managed at Turfway,” said Chip Bach, the track’s general manager.

Bach said Sunday morning the quarantined horses could resume training separate from the general horse population if cleared by Ford after more testing and information becomes known.

As a result of the latest quarantine, Gulfstream Park announced Sunday it would not accept shippers from Kentucky

Attention Horsemen !!!

January 22nd, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

Attention !!!  Attention !!! Attention !!!

Please be advised that as of this date, 1/22/2017 NO HORSES will be allowed to enter the grounds if they have been at Turfway Park.  Currently Turfway has had 1 confirmed case of Equine Herpes, (Barn 27 in now under quarantine).  There are other issues in the State at different places as well.  If you wish to race at Turfway you may leave to race, but will not be allowed to re-enter the grounds here at Fairmount until you follow certain protocol to be sure your horse is not sick.

The protocol to re-enter Fairmount will be a veterinarian slip that states your horse has had NO temperature for 14 consecutive days.

We are sorry if this causes any inconvenience to anyone, but we must protect our horses and insure we have no issues here at Fairmount in order to run in Chicago’s spring meet as well has run our meet which starts in May.

If you have not had your horse vaccinated or you are unsure, please contact one of the vets and get it done ASAP.  Your horses need to be re-vaccinated every 120 days.

Clearly once Turfway and Kentucky removes the quarantine and tells us all is clear, we will lift this re-entry process.

Please stay tuned, there will be follow up information.

Press Release to Gov. Rauner !!!

January 17th, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione
A Plea to Gov. Bruce Rauner: Join Us in Asking the Illinois Racing Board to Stop Racetracks from Raiding Purse Dollars and Destroying Illinois Jobs
 
Statement from Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association,
Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association and 
Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association
Illinois regulators will soon decide whether horse racing tracks can take for themselves more than $11 million in purse money intended to pay backstretch workers, jockeys, drivers, blacksmiths, veterinarians, hay and feed suppliers, trainers and other workers.
If the Illinois Racing Board on Jan. 24 votes to allow the tracks to raid purses, it will expedite the collapse of an industry already shedding jobs and struggling to compete with racing in other states, such as neighboring Indiana and Iowa, where gaming revenue is used to boost purses, enhance competition and improve racing quality.
Illinois thoroughbred and standardbred owners and trainers ask the IRB to vote against allowing tracks to take dollars explicitly earmarked – as a percentage of handle (the amount wagered) – for purses. We respectfully request that Gov. Bruce Rauner use his platform to make it clear to IRB commissioners, the majority of whom he has appointed, that they should side with the thousands of men and women who work each day for a share of those purses. With Illinois unemployment higher than the national average, this state cannot afford the job cuts that inevitably will result from a significant purse reduction. Every dollar the tracks remove from purses represents a dollar of lost economic opportunity.
In 2016, Arlington Park alone took $4.4 million from purses, depleting them by nearly $60,000 per race day. The track seized that purse money even as its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., reported “record net revenue” during each of the first three quarters of last year. Had Arlington not raided the purse account, daily overnight purses would have been 46 percent greater, rising from $130,730 to $190,324. That would have dramatically strengthened overnight races at that track and helped stanch the loss of jobs across Illinois’ horse racing industry.
“Recapture” Means “Corporate Welfare” 
The practice of “recapture” was never intended to become corporate welfare, enabling tracks to subsidize their own operations while squeezing the life out of live racing. But since 1995, when recapture began, the IRB has signed off on diverting a staggering $262.1 million in purse money to track owners. (Even after accounting for reimbursements the state made to purse accounts more than 15 years ago, purses still have lost more than $200 million.) While the racetracks enjoy that herculean subsidy, horsemen compete for purses that, at best, cover less than half of our cost to buy, train, feed and care for the horses around which our sport revolves.
Recapture is unique to Illinois and from another era of horse racing – one in which tracks feared the loss of live handle relating (at the time in 1995) to the growth of simulcasting of races from other states. Since 2009, track owners here and across the nation have embraced advance deposit wagering, a technology that has largely supplanted full-card simulcasting and which has been highly profitable for them.
When a dollar is wagered via ADW, a portion of that dollar goes to the ADW operator and that leaves less for the track and the purse account to split. But while it may appear that track owners get less when bets are made over ADW, they are in fact making more because all the tracks in Illinois are financially tied to the ADW companies taking those bets.
Arlington, for example, is connected to TwinSpires.com – a fellow subsidiary of Churchill Downs Inc. and the self-described “largest legal online gaming platform in the U.S.” When a bet is made on TwinSpires, the horsemen’s purse account earns less while Arlington’s parent company (which enjoys the shares of both the ADW company and the track) keeps more. In its third-quarter report for 2016, CDI said “TwinSpires handle grew 14.3%, outpacing the U.S. thoroughbred industry performance by 13.5 percentage points.”
IRB Must Act in Accordance with Horse Racing Act
Until such time that Illinois lawmakers authorize tracks to host gaming for the purpose of bolstering purses, the surest way to immediately and dramatically improve purses would be to unceremoniously stop the tracks from draining them. (Prior to the legislature’s recent “lame duck” session, the IRB unsuccessfully promoted legislation that, in its view, would have allowed the transfer of up to $500,000 in pari-mutuel tax dollars from the IRB’s budget to the purse account. Click here for the ITHA’s statement on that proposal.) With Illinois thoroughbred and standardbred racing now rapidly contracting – handle and purses are down dramatically, as is the state’s racing horse population – continuing recapture would contradict the spirit, if not the letter, of the law underpinning our sport.
The Illinois Horse Racing Act requires the board to consider “the need to ensure reasonable purse levels” before it can permit any amount of recapture. The Act further specifies that its entire purpose – and, by extension, the IRB’s mission – is to: support and enhance the racing industry; ensure that Illinois racing stays competitive with other states; stimulate growth of racing; promote the growth of tourism; encourage the breeding of thoroughbred and standardbred horses in our state; and maintain public confidence and trust in the credibility and integrity of racing operations and the regulatory process.
On Jan. 24, the IRB can vote to honor the law’s intent, truly promote Illinois racing, and end recapture, which will halt the exodus of racing jobs from our state, preserve what remains of breeding, attract additional bettors, and, ultimately, grow field size and handle. Or, it can maintain the status quo and hasten the demise of Illinois racing.

Attention Horsemen and Membership !!!

January 16th, 2017 | written by Pete Scalcione

We have scheduled a General Membership Meeting for Monday, January 30th at 6:00 PM on the 2nd floor of the grandstand near the paddock in the horsemen’s section.  Hope to see everyone there !!!!