12/31/2012 2:49PM

Hawthorne: Another horse tests positive for herpes, but possible end to quarantine in sight


STICKNEY, Ill. – A Hawthorne-based horse with a fever tested positive for equine herpesivirus last week, but the chief veterinarian for the Illinois Department of Agriculture has kept in place a previously established date for a potential end to the state-imposed quarantine of the track.

The horse, trained by Bradlee Rainwater, was found with the EHV-1 virus Dec. 24, according to state-employed veterinarian Dr. Dawn Folker-Calderon. The horse was moved into isolation in Barn 8 and has not developed the potentially fatal neurologic symptoms associated with the disease. State officials previously had said any symptomatic horse testing positive for EHV-1 would reset the start of the 28-day quarantine period, but Dr. Mark Ernst, the Department of Agriculture veterinarian responsible for setting protocols related to the outbreak, told Folker-Calderon that a previously established target date to end the quarantine, Jan. 9, would remain in place.

That date was established by an EHV-1 horse trained by Mike Stidham that developed neurologic symptoms and eventually had to be euthanized, the seventh death related to the virus, which first surfaced at Hawthorne in mid-October.

The Rainwater horse had been housed in Barn 6, and was the first EHV-1 positive in that barn.

Hawthorne’s meet ended Dec. 30, and in a normal year, Folker-Calderon would not come to work during the winter dark period. The Illinois Racing Board, however, has asked that she work two or three days a week in January in order to continue overseeing the EHV-1 situation. Hawthorne’s spring meet is scheduled to begin Feb. 15.

This past weekend, Hawthorne announced its track would be closed for training two weeks beginning Jan. 1. A news release said the closure had been requested by the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and was being implemented to inspect the base of Hawthorne’s racing surface while “refreshing its top portion.”

The release asked horsemen to keep barn doors closed while walking horses around the shed row to keep the virus from spreading.