03/01/2018 1:10PM

Herpes quarantine lifted at Turfway


Kentucky agriculture officials announced Thursday they had lifted a quarantine of a barn at Turfway Park that had several horses test positive for the equine herpesvirus in early February.

Horses in that barn may now train with the general horse population and resume racing. Also, shipping restrictions between Turfway and other tracks meant to prevent the spread of the virus can be eased as Turfway prepares to host its biggest day of racing. On March 17, Turfway runs the Grade 3, $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks, a Kentucky Derby prep formerly known as the Spiral.

The quarantine at Turfway was initiated when a horse was euthanized from neurological problems stemming from the equine herpesvirus, and two horses housed within the same barn then tested positive for the virus. Those horses are quarantined off Turfway grounds, according to a statement from Kentucky Agriculture official Rusty Ford.

All the remaining horses in the previously quarantined barn, which houses approximately 25 racehorses, have tested negative in the latest round of testing for the virus, Ford’s statement said.

Many horses are latently infected with the equine herpesvirus without showing any signs of the disease, while others develop the more dangerous neurological strand, which can lead to paralysis and death. More typical symptoms include nasal discharge, fever, and lethargy.

This winter the equine herpesvirus has popped up at tracks around the country, including Belmont Park, Laurel, and Los Alamitos. The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky., also has a barn under quarantine.

Even with the quarantine lifted, procedures remain in place to prevent a recurrence of the virus. Ship-in horses are restricted to stabling at the receiving barn at Turfway unless the trainer has a regular stable at the track, and horses entering the Turfway stable area are required to have an equine herpesvirus vaccination history.