01/24/2008 12:00AM

Bowie horse negative, but further tests remain

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A horse stabled at Bowie Training Center in Maryland who was exhibiting symptoms of equine herpesvirus has tested negative for the disease, Maryland racing officials said on Thursday. A hold order will remain in force, however, on a barn at the facility until at least Friday while a second round of tests is completed.

The unidentified horse was isolated on Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Agriculture when it began moving unsteadily, a symptom of equine herpesvirus, which first attacks a horse's upper respiratory system and can then move on to the nervous system. Equine herpesvirus is highly contagious, and an outbreak of the disease in Maryland in early 2006 disrupted racing schedules along the Eastern Seaboard.

Blood tests on the horse were negative, but officials said that test results from a nasal swab were inconclusive. As a result, health officials took additional samples on Thursday and shipped the samples to the University of Kentucky for a second round of testing. The results could be available as early as Friday, the officials said.

The horse was initially stabled in a 20-stall barn at Bowie. All of the horses in the barn have been prohibited from mingling with other horses at the training facility since Tuesday, and will not be able to race or train until the hold order is lifted.