02/01/2006 12:00AM

Horse put in isolation at Bowie after showing herpesvirus signs

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A horse stabled at Bowie Training Center in Maryland has been placed in isolation by state veterinary officials after showing symptoms similar to those related to equine herpesvirus, the Maryland Jockey Club said on Wednesday.

The unidentified horse, who is trained by Chris Grove, had shown signs of lameness after it last raced and began showing signs of neurological distress late last week, according to the MJC. Veterinary officials collected nasal swabs and blood samples from the horse on Wednesday afternoon in order to test for the virus, a highly contagious disease that attacks a horse's upper respiratory and neurological systems.

State veterinary officials and the Maryland Jockey Club have been struggling since the beginning of the year to contain an outbreak of equine herpesvirus at Thoroughbred tracks and training centers throughout the state. Pimlico Race Course, which is owned by the MJC but is currently not open for live racing, has been under quarantine since Jan. 21 because of the outbreak.

On Tuesday, MJC officials said that postmortem tissue of a horse stabled at Pimlico's sister track, Laurel Park, had tested positive for the disease. The horse was euthanized last Thursday. Pimlico is still holding eight horses that have tested positive. Another three have been euthanized at the track.

The Bowie incident is the first at the training center to be reported to veterinary officials. The MJC said that Grove had agreed not to train any of his horses until tests have been returned on the suspect horse. All 29 of the horses in the barn have also been prohibited from running at Laurel Park until the tests come back early next week, the MJC said.