Veterinarians provide update on Laurel Park EHV-1 quarantine

The lifting of restrictions resulting from an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) quarantine at Laurel Park hinge on the results of test results expected in the coming days, veterinary officials said March 19.

The restrictions took effect March 8 when Barns 1, 4, 10 and 11 were placed under quarantine for 14 days at the outset. On March 17, Barn 20 was added to the quarantine list after a filly was discovered the have neurologic symptoms and was sent to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for treatment and testing. The first of two tests came back negative.

During a Zoom meeting hosted by Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association March 19, Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for The Stronach Group, and Dr. Michael Odian, the Maryland State Veterinarian, provided an update on the ongoing situation. Laurel Park has continued to offer live racing with restrictions on shippers.

Benson said the filly from Barn 20 that tested negative will be retested in 72 hours, and if the second test is negative, horses from Barn 20 will be permitted to train with the regular population. Six horses in Barn 4 tested positive for EHV-1 on March 17 and were transported to the former Bowie Training Center, where a barn was spruced up for quarantine use. The remaining horses in Barn 4 will be retested March 24. Benson said if those tests prove negative, the Barn 4 quarantine would be lifted March 29.

If there are no symptomatic horses found in Barns 1, 10 and 11, the quarantine on those barns would be lifted March 27, in time for them to race that weekend at Laurel.

“We hope to be on the other side of this a week from Monday (March 29),” Benson said.

“I understand these are frustrating times and we’re trying to balance everything,” Odian said. “We’re also trying to show other racing jurisdictions we are doing the best protocols possible to show we have the disease under control. I’ve been impressed with how easy everyone is to work with. The protocols are designed with a lot of factors in mind.”

In response to a question about when horses not in quarantined barns will be permitted to leave the grounds, Benson said if there are no new EHV-1 cases and the second tests on the horses in Barn 4 are negative, the quarantine would be lifted March 29.

The MJC Racing Office, to accommodate horsemen in quarantined barns, is working on a schedule to expand training hours on dark days—Monday through Thursday—and will inform horsemen when the times are determined. The MJC also said that, effective immediately, any horses shipping to Laurel or Pimlico during the quarantine must be approved by the Racing Office.

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