10/23/2012 1:25PM

Hawthorne: No new herpes cases; hope that illness may be contained


STICKNEY, Ill. – The outbreak of equine herpesvirus at Hawthorne Race Course continues to be confined to a single barn on the track’s backstretch, and after a week during which no new cases of the neurological form of the virus were reported, hope continues to grow that the sickness might no longer be spreading.

While two horses died from the virus, the three other horses that showed signs of ataxia (loss of coordination) are still alive. Two of those animals “are doing quite well,” according to Dr. Dawn Folker-Calderon, the Illinois state veterinarian stationed at Hawthorne, while the third horse’s conditions has remained about unchanged over the last several days.

Tests for EHV-1 have been performed on the more than 70 horses that remain isolated in Barn A, with results having come back for about half those animals, Dr. Folker-Calderon said. Within the next day or two, horses in Barn A that have tested negative for EHV-1 and that have never run a fever will be moved to another isolation area on the Hawthorne backstretch, where they’ll no longer be exposed to horses that have at some point contracted the virus while still being isolated from the general equine population.

The horses from barn A that have tested negative still will be subject to at last two more rounds of testing before they will be released from isolation. At some point, this set of horses will be given a special morning-training period, but it will be up to the Illinois state Department of Agriculture to determine when that procedure is put into place.

Six horses outside barn A have been tested for EHV-1 after running a fever, but none of those results have come back positive. Any Hawthorne-based horse with a fever is supposed to be reported to Dr. Folker-Calderon.

“I still want to be very cautious about everything,” she said.