Updated on 12/13/2013 3:19PM

Parx Racing: Quarantine will remain in place indefinitely

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The quarantine in effect at Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia for the past month will extend indefinitely following more positive tests for equine herpesvirus from the last remaining barn on the backstretch where the infectious disease was first confirmed.

Five horses from Barn 21, which primarily houses about 20 horses trained by Steve Klesaris, tested positive for equine herpesvirus type 1 on Dec. 7, according to Samantha Elliott Krepps, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in Harrisburg. Those five horses were retested Thursday, and on Friday afternoon Krepps said the results of the blood work were positive again.

Under the Department of Agriculture’s regulations, horses must be free of clinical signs of equine herpesvirus for 21 days and test negative for the disease before a quarantine can be lifted. How soon the ailing horses will be retested is uncertain.

“As the December 12 results indicate, there isn’t too much value in repeating the testing at short intervals,” Krepps said.
“The December 12 testing was not a department-funded quarantine release testing. It was voluntary testing paid for by the horse owners in the hope of receiving negative results and moving up the 21-day window for quarantine release testing.”

Options for follow-up testing are under consideration by the Department of Agriculture, Krepps said.

Sal Sinatra, vice president of racing and racing secretary at Parx, acknowledged that the quarantine remains in effect but declined futher comment.

Under the Department of Agriculture’s regulations, horses must be free of clinical signs of equine herpesvirus for 21 days and test negative for the disease before a quarantine can be lifted.

Equine herpesvirus is highly contagious and causes upper-respiratory infection and severe neurological disease in horses but poses no danger to people. Horses in the quarantined barn are not permitted to train, and strict sanitary and biosecurity standards are enforced. No horses are allowed to leave the Parx grounds, and entries from out-of-town horses are not permitted.

The state imposed the quarantine Nov. 13 after a horse trained by Klesaris was among six ailing animals sent to a clinic for testing, which confirmed one case of equine herpesvirus type 1. Horses from four other low-profile trainers also reside in the quarantined barn.