02/10/2016 1:00PM

Turf Paradise to lift quarantine; 61 positives for equine herpesvirus at Sunland Park

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The number of horses testing positive for the equine herpesvirus at Sunland Park in New Mexico continues to climb, but Turf Paradise in Arizona has announced plans to lift its quarantine at the end of next week after reporting to health officials that no horses have exhibited symptoms of the disease since a horse was euthanized nearly two weeks ago.

The New Mexico Livestock Board said Tuesday that 61 horses at Sunland Park have tested positive for equine herpesvirus, a highly contagious disease that can sometimes prove fatal. The Equine Disease Communication Center had reported Monday that 56 horses had tested positive at the track, which has ceased racing as it tries to get the disease under control.

Sunland Park has not raced since Jan. 22, after the first batch of horses began testing positive at the track. The EDCC said on Monday that the virus is affecting 20 barns at the track. Under normal protocols, a quarantine cannot be lifted until at least 21 days after the last horse tests positive at the track or displays symptoms of the disease. Sunland’s biggest race by far is the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby, scheduled for March 20.

The EDCC said the quarantine at Turf Paradise will be lifted Feb. 18. A notice from the center said that no horses at Turf Paradise have shown any indications of the disease since the track closed its backstretch Jan. 27, shortly after a horse who had shipped in from Sunland began exhibiting neurological symptoms consistent with the herpesvirus while in quarantine.

Turf Paradise has continued to race while under quarantine. A number of tracks across the Southwest and South have imposed bans on horses shipping in from both Turf Paradise and Sunland.