10/29/2007 12:00AM

35 horses appear virus-free

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - Test results returned over the weekend indicate that none of the 35 horses in a quarantined barn at Churchill Downs have the equine herpesvirus.

Barn 47 at Churchill Downs, which stables 19 horses trained by David Carroll and 16 by Al Stall Jr., remained under quarantine as of midday Monday. Under the quarantine order, no horses are allowed in or out of the barn.

The quarantine was issued Friday after a 3-year-old horse trained by Carroll began showing neurological problems Thursday and tests taken at a Lexington clinic later that evening indicated that he was infected with the virus.

The equine herpesvirus is a contagious disease in horses that can cause loss of coordination and even death in extreme cases. Common symptoms include fever and upper respiratory problems. The disease poses no danger to humans.

Rusty Ford, the equine programs manager for the office of Kentucky State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Stout, said the barn would remain under quarantine, but he said the tests taken from the 35 horses were encouraging and the status of the horses in that barn would be closely evaluated in the coming days.

"The test results reaffirmed our suspicion that the infected horse carried a low level of the infection in his body and that made him a lesser risk to transmit the virus to other horses," Ford said.

Stall said Monday that he was hopeful his horses might soon be released from quarantine, noting they are healthy and have always been separated from Carroll's by a firewall in the center of the barn. His horses also use different shed rows and wash racks.

Policies designed to limit the spread of the equine herpesvirus remain in place for the Churchill Downs meet, which began Sunday. All horses that enter and depart from the track's stable area are required to present a veterinary certificate of health that certifies that the horse has been healthy for 72 hours. Receiving and stakes barns, the starting gate, the paddock, and equipment used by outriders and the track's horse identifier will be regularly disinfected.