11/04/2006 1:00AM

Herpes found at N.J. vet clinic

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The New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health has issued a quarantine at the Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Clinic in Ringoes, Hunterdon County, after a horse recovering from surgery there tested positive for the equine herpesvirus.

The horse, which was not named in a release issued by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, had been at Monmouth Park before a quarantine was established at the track on Oct. 27, and was sent to Mid-Atlantic for colic surgery on Oct. 21. Mid-Atlantic tested the horse for herpes on Oct. 23, and the results were negative. However, a second test taken earlier this week turned up a positive result.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has identified 36 horses that came into contact with the horse in question, and they have all been tested. According to the release: "The infected horse had minimal contact with other horses at Mid-Atlantic, and 20 exposed or potentially exposed horses at the hospital have been quarantined in isolation barns. One horse that had contact with the infected horse has been relocated to a rehabilitation facility, and that facility has been quarantined as well. All horses at that facility will be tested prior to release from quarantine."

Last week, at least four horses at Monmouth Park were tested for equine herpesvirus after they began exhibiting fevers. Those four, and other horses at Monmouth Park that had contact with those horses, were separated from the rest of the equine population there and are in designated quarantine barns. All horses in the quarantined barns at Monmouth will not be permitted to move to other facilities until they have shown no indications of the disease for at least 21 days.

The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly and can cause respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. The neurologic form of the virus can result in high mortality rates.