Updated on 06/28/2014 2:14PM

Equine herpes restrictions lifted at Suffolk


EAST BOSTON, Mass. -- All of the precautionary measures that were implemented at Suffolk Downs in the wake of one horse’s death from equine herpes myelitis earlier this month have been lifted after tests on five other horses which spiked a fever came back negative.

Dr. Lorraine O'Connor, the chief veterinary health officer for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, notified track officials of the latest results and the incubation period for EHM of two to 10 days has passed.

“We got the good news and we are back to all normal operations. Everything is okay,” said Sam Elliott, the track’s vice president of racing on Saturday [June 28]. “For as big of a problem as it was, we got a little lucky.”

Protocols that had been imposed since June 9 included the isolation of barn 21, where the deceased horse had been stabled, travel restrictions that prohibited any horse from shipping out to another track or farm, and bio-security measures to protect the entire horse population on the backside. Moreover, horses from the barn in question were not allowed to train during normal hours or be entered to race.

Elliott said that two of the five horses which had elevated temperatures were stabled in barn 21.

In a memo sent to all horsemen at the track after the single case of EHM was diagnosed, Dr. O'Connor, outlined the symptoms of the highly contagious condition, which can cause respiratory disease, severe illness, neurological disease, and death. All horsemen were urged to monitor their charges for fever, often the first clinical sign, take the temperature of each horse twice daily, and report any spikes in a horse's temperature, as well as any other signs of illness outlined in the memo.

"We are grateful for the cooperation of the Massahusetts department of agriculture, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the veterinary team and the trainers who worked to ensure this was an isolated incident" said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs.

When the restrictions went into effect, the state department of agriculture was in contact with other racing jurisdictions where horses from Suffolk might have already shipped.

During the precautionary period, the $25,000 Rise Jim Stakes scheduled for June 21 and the $25,000 Isadorable Stakes on June 28 were postponed, The stakes restricted to Massachusetts-breds have been rescheduled for July 5 and July 12, respectively.