06/18/2014 3:03PM

Horses isolated after EHM death


EAST BOSTON, Mass. – Horses stabled in a single barn at Suffolk Downs are being isolated from the general population following the death of one horse that tested positive for equine herpes myelitis.

In a memo sent to horsemen at the track, Dr. Lorraine O'Connor, the chief veterinary health officer for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, outlined the symptoms of EHM and wrote it can cause respiratory disease, severe illness, and neurological disease.

All horsemen have been urged to monitor their charges for fever, often the first clinical sign, and take the temperature of each horse twice daily. They have been asked to report any spikes in a horse's temperature, as well as any other signs of illness outlined in the memo.

Currently, horses are being allowed to ship into Suffolk Downs to race, but they are not allowed to leave the track for another track or a farm. There is no official quarantine at this time.

"We are being vigilant. The barn in question is under enhanced bio security measures, and it has been since June 9," said Jennifer Durenberger, DVM, the director of racing for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. "The horses from that barn may only train after hours and may not be entered to race, and we are taking other special measures to protect the horse population."

She added the state department of agriculture has been in contact with other racing jurisdictions where horses from Suffolk may have already shipped.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle was not available for comment.

Jacqueline Falk is the trainer of the affected horse, which was transferred to the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine's equine facility and died there. She chose not to comment when reached.

Samples from one other horse that developed a fever, which may have been caused by a variety of factors, have been sent to the state lab for testing, and authorities are awaiting the results.