12/19/2006 1:00AM

Herpes restrictions at Calder


MIAMI - Two barns at Calder Race Course have been placed under restriction after a horse who shipped into the track earlier this month was found on Monday to have a confirmed case of Equine Herpesvirus Type 1.

Equine herpesvirus is a contagious disease spread among horses. It carries flu-like symptoms, including fever or respiratory infection, and can prove fatal in extreme cases.

Calder's track veterinarian, Dr. Mary Scollay, said there are no cases of equine herpesvirus or even any suspect cases on the grounds, and that all restrictions are being taken as a precautionary measure.

Three horses have been reported dead from equine herpesvirus in Wellington, Fla., a major center for show horses located approximately 60 miles north of Calder. According to Martin Short, the equine program manager for the Florida Department of Agriculture, there have been six confirmed cases of the disease thus far in Wellington.

"We are placing two barns under restriction in response to presumed EHV-1 exposure," Scollay said Tuesday. "The filly in question shipped in to Calder on Dec. 6 after being hospitalized in Wellington for an unrelated illness and shipped out on Dec. 11."

Calder management has taken additional precautionary measures, including not allowing any horses to be admitted to the grounds for stabling for the next seven days. The track is also dedicating two barns as receiving barns for "race-and-go" horses. One barn will hold horses originating from Gulfstream, Palm Meadows, Payson Park, and Palm Beach Downs. The second will house horses shipping in to race from Ocala and private farms.

"We have decided to allow horses stabled at Gulfstream and Palm Meadows to ship in to race at Calder and return, since we are satisfied they have taken all the necessary precautions to protect those horses from any potential exposure to the virus," said Gulfstream Park's racing secretary, Dave Bailey.

Tampa Bay Downs has instituted similar shipping restrictions in reaction to the Calder situation.

The Meadowlands in New Jersey suffered a severe blow in October after an outbreak of equine herpesvirus at Monmouth Park. The subsequent quarantine kept horses stabled in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware from shipping to the track during the final weeks of the meet.