01/22/2008 12:00AM

Horse put in isolation at Bowie

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The Maryland Department of Agriculture placed restrictions on a barn at Bowie Training Center on Tuesday afternoon after a horse in the barn displayed symptoms similar to those caused by the highly contagious disease equine herpesvirus.

The horse, who was not identified by racing officials on Tuesday, has been moved to a vacant barn elsewhere at Bowie while officials await test results. The barn where the horse was located had 20 stalls, and any horse in the barn will be prevented from either racing or training until the tests are returned, according to Chris Dragone, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Bowie, Laurel Park, and Pimlico Race Course.

Equine herpesvirus causes a severe upper respiratory infection and can lead to neurological disease. In early 2006, an outbreak of equine herpesvirus at Maryland tracks resulted in a three-week quarantine of Pimlico after 11 horses tested positive for the disease and three died. The quarantine disrupted shipping of horses across the Eastern seaboard.

Dragone said the Bowie horse was running a fever on Monday morning, but that the fever had subsided on Tuesday. Veterinarians who were monitoring the horse, however, "didn't like the way he was moving" and asked for the tests for herpesvirus, Dragone said.

The test results will likely be available on Thursday or Friday, the MJC said.