04/20/2016 8:44AM

Fonner Park placed under 21-day quarantine


The backside of Fonner Park in Grand Island, Neb., has been placed under a 21-day quarantine after three horses tested positive for the equine herpesvirus, the highly contagious disease that has affected operations at a handful of racetracks this year.

One of the horses who tested positive died Sunday night, while the other two have been isolated from the rest of the population on the Fonner Park backside, according to the Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture. Racing will be allowed to continue at Fonner while the quarantine is in place.

Outbreaks of the equine herpesvirus have popped up this year at racing and training facilities in states such as Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Parx Racing near Philadelphia is currently under quarantine for the second time in the last six months due to its most recent outbreak of the disease.

The three horses who tested positive have all been at Fonner Park since January, according to Fonner’s chief executive, Bruce Swihart. All were in the same barn.

Nebraska veterinary officials urged trainers at Fonner to exercise caution and to be on guard for symptoms consistent with the disease.

“It is of utmost importance that horse owners and facility managers take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of this disease,” said Dennis Hughes, Nebraska's state veterinarian. “Vigilance is especially important in situations where horses can come into contact with each other. There can be a high susceptibility to the disease where we have horses comingling from different regions or states.”

Fonner is scheduled to run through May 7.