01/17/2014 5:14PM

Penn National lifts quarantine after negative test for equine herpesvirus

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Penn National late Friday lifted a quarantine on a barn it had imposed earlier in the day after an ailing horse in the barn tested negative for the highly contagious disease equine herpesvirus, officials said.

Penn placed the quarantine on barn 17 early Friday morning when the horse, Taste of Punch, began displaying neurologic symptoms consistent with the disease. Tests on blood pulled from the horse tested negative Friday afternoon, said Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National’s parent company.

Equine herpesvirus can be spread through coughs and sneezes and play havoc with a closely packed horse population like a backstretch. Last week, Parx Racing, a racetrack in suburban Philadelphia, lifted a two-month quarantine after a horse there tested positive for EHV-1, as the virus is known. Because of limitations on the movement of horses on and off the backstretch, the track was forced to cancel several stakes races during the quarantine.

Taste of Punch has been at Penn National without leaving the grounds since well before the quarantine was put in place at Parx last year, McErlean said. Barn 17 has about 45 stalls.