11/23/2012 8:40PM

Hawthorne: First group of horses permitted to leave after herpesvirus outbreak

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A group of horses was allowed to leave the Hawthorne Race Course backstretch Saturday, the first time horses have been permitted to depart Hawthorne since the Illinois Department of Agriculture quarantined the track Oct. 26 after an outbreak of equine herpesvirus.

The horses, trained by Gary Scherer, were bound for a private facility in Kentucky, according to an Internet posting by the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak, which has claimed the lives of three horses at Hawthorne, began Oct. 14. When the virus spread from the site of the initial infections to another Hawthorne barn on Oct. 26, the state Department of Agriculture quarantined the track.
On a conference call Monday, Dr. Mark Ernst, chief veterinarian for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said it might be possible for horses that have produced a negative test for the EHV-1 virus to leave the grounds for an approved receiving facility.

The ITHA followed up on that suggestion, and protocols for departure were established earlier this week. To leave Hawthorne, a horseman must obtain permission from the receiving state’s Department of Agriculture and present that permission to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. A veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture must be present at Hawthorne upon the horses’ departure and at their destination.