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Guelph, ON April, 11, 2018 - Researchers at the University of Guelph are searching for clues to better manage a virus that can cause late gestation abortion in mares.   Horses carrying equine herpesvirus (EHV) may exhibit signs as minor as a runny nose and mild fever, but the virus is a major cause of neurological, respiratory and reproductive disease, including abortions, in the equine industry.   Horses often are infected early in life and EHV can remain in the body for life, reactivating at any time, but it’s not clear what causes this to happen. Something pushes it over the edge to disease manifestation, explains Dr. Brandon Lillie, a pathologist in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).   While vaccination is recommended to protect against EHV, the virus continues to occur in vaccinated herds. Affected horses may abort their foals or foals may be born apparently healthy only to die a short time later.   Lillie and Dr. Luis Arroyo, a clinician and researcher in OVC’s Department of Clinical Studies, along with their research team are trying to better understand how the virus exists in the horse population, uncover what triggers the virus to cause disease and assess ways to maximize current EHV vaccination efficacy and minimize the virus’s effect on the horses’ health. In particular, they are focusing on the abortive affect of the virus.   EHV can present in a number of ways, explains Arroyo. Horses may demonstrate neurological signs; they may have difficulty walking, they may have difficulty urinating because the nerves to their bladder are inflamed, or they may exhibit milder symptoms like a runny nose, or no symptoms at all.   A mare may not show clinical signs of the virus at all, but could lose a foal who is loaded with the virus, he adds. Conversely, some mares may be clearly diseased but their pregnancy isn’t compromised.   The cyclical nature of the virus is part of the challenge. Farms may report no abortions for a couple of years and then suddenly they have two or three.   The researchers began with a survey of Ontario horse farms to better understand the current state of the industry, looking at herd sizes, abortion rates and prevalence of EHV-related diseases.   Beginning in December 2016, they began sampling horses on farms across Ontario – from Ottawa to Windsor and Sudbury to the Niagara Region.    The farms include large racing operations with dozens of mares to smaller farms with two, three or six mares. Says Lillie, “We are focusing on the mares because that is the major way that foals get infected. We think that’s an important area to look at and understand.”   Horses on each farm will be sampled six times over 12 months, essentially covering the entire gestational cycle of horses.   Lillie and Arroyo are also examining the best way to sample for the virus, looking at nasal swabs, vaginal swabs and blood samples.   “If a mare is shedding are there different levels in different places, are you better to swab a horse’s nose or to take a blood sample?” asks Lillie.   They will test the samples for presence of the virus or viral DNA levels and also look at serology, the mare’s antibody level or immune response to the virus. Using this information, researchers can then determine how prevalent the virus is, the impact of vaccines on the virus and the mare’s ability to mount an immune response.   On the farms being studied, there is also a fairly even split between those who vaccinate and those who don’t.    “Hopefully we’ll start to see some trends,” adds Lillie. “Ultimately, when abortions occur, we can look back and see if the shedding pattern changed and if one type of sampling was a key indicator.”   Another area they will assess is how the antibody response pattern changes with horses throughout the year. Preliminary evidence suggests not all mares respond the same way to the virus or have the same antibody level patterns over the year.   The host, the pathogen, the farm’s management strategy and the environment all contribute to the occurrence of disease particularly when a virus is there all the time, adds Lillie.   Ultimately, the researchers hope to make some changes in how the disease is diagnosed and managed. “Maybe vaccine protocols need tweaking,” he says. “Maybe the current vaccination schedule isn’t the best as far as timing or maybe another one is needed in there, or perhaps the virus has evolved a bit.”   Funding for the study has come from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and a University of Guelph Catalyst Grant, as well as funding from Equine Guelph and the Zoetis Investment in Innovation Fund.   Web Link:    by: Karen Mantel  

Harrisburg, PA - A Standardbred horse at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County tested positive yesterday for equine herpes virus, or EHV-1, making it the second confirmed case in the state this month. Last week, veterinarians with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine confirmed a case at the school's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Chester County. The Washington County horse tested positive after it was moved to the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine for diagnostic tests. Veterinarians report that the horse is responding well to treatment. As a precaution, two barns at the Meadows racetrack have been quarantined to control any potential spread of the virus. Trainers are monitoring two of approximately 60 potentially exposed horses in the quarantined barns that presented with elevated temperatures. No additional horses at the racetrack have shown signs of clinical illness, but the movement of horses into or out of the track has been restricted until all horses receive a clean bill of health. The Meadows Racetrack was closed yesterday due to a power outage and poor track conditions, but reopened today. Clinically healthy horses are being allowed to jog around the track to stay in shape. Pending improvement in track conditions, all non-quarantined horses should be eligible to race again on Saturday. In the New Bolton Center case last week, a 30-year-old horse developed symptoms compatible with equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, or EHM, then tested positive for EHV-1 on January 16. A second horse, housed in an adjacent barn, also developed a fever and later tested positive for EHV-1. The second horse was moved to a state-of-the-art, on-site isolation facility with dedicated staff who are entirely separate from personnel handling other horses. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture contacted owners and quarantined other potentially exposed horses that left the New Bolton Center prior to confirming the EHM diagnosis. To control the spread of the virus, Orders of Special Quarantine were posted at other Pennsylvania premises that had recently received potentially exposed horses. In addition to increased biosecurity, these locations are required to conduct twice daily temperature checks, monitor, and report any horses showing signs of EHV-1 infection. No new cases have been identified since the original diagnosis. EHV-1 is a highly contagious virus that commonly circulates in horse populations. Depending on the specific strain of the virus, the equine herpes virus can cause a variety of clinical signs in infected horses, including respiratory disease or abortion in pregnant mares. The EHM form of the disease can cause horses to suffer varying degrees of paralysis and ataxia; in severe cases, the infected horse may be euthanized. While EHV-1 can cause illness in horses, other equine animals and camelids (llamas and alpacas), it does not pose a health threat to people or other animals. Unless a new case is detected, all horses can be cleared after 28 days without symptoms, or after 21 days with confirmation of negative test results for both blood samples and nasal swab tests. Experts note that many horses carry a latent form of the herpes virus, and symptoms may not appear unless the animal is stressed. Although horses are vaccinated for other strains of the equine herpes virus, there is no existing vaccine for the EHV-1 strain of the virus. For more information about equine herpes, please refer to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Bonnie McCann - 717.783.0133

More than 60 harness racing horses are being quarantined at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino because of a contagious virus. The Equine Disease Communication Center reported Wednesday a Disease Oubreak Alert regarding Equine Herpes Virus at The Meadows. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was notified that a Standardbred horse at The Meadows had showed clinical signs consistent with Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy. The horse tested positive for EHV-1 and is under medical treatment. Two barns at The Meadows are under quarantine because of a horse moved earlier from the original exposed barn. The horse, which caused the second barn’s movement restriction, is not showing clinical signs of the virus. A daily monitoring period for clinical signs in the remaining exposed, asymptomatic horses is ongoing. EVH-1 can cause four manifestations of disease in horses, including a neurological form, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death. EHM is most often caused by mutant or neuropathogenic strains of EHV-1, so called because of a particular mutation in the genome. The Meadows canceled its harness racing card Tuesday citing a power failure. The track’s Wednesday card was called off with the track citing poor track conditions as the cause. The track does not have another racing card scheduled until Saturday afternoon. Jim McNutt Reprinted with permission of the Observer-Reporter  

In 2013, a devastating outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus One caused four confirmed cases in Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses and three confirmed deaths.   The development reinforced Equine Guelph's sense that the Ontario horse racing industry - one filled with high-value animals and frequent movement - was in need of further education on biosecurity and infectious disease prevention.   Accessing funding through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, Equine Guelph developed and delivered 'BIOSECURITY - Spread the word not the germs.' The first-of-its-kind campaign targeted infectious diseases in the Ontario horse racing industry. The initiative changed the equine industry's approach to biosecurity and delivered lasting resources still used today.   In order to reach such a broad community, Equine Guelph used a peer-to-peer educational approach to bring the industry together.   In April 2015, Equine Guelph started by educating horse racing officials. Ontario Racing Commission investigators, judges and stewards received training on biosecurity, arming the officials with the resources needed to visit all 10 Ontario race tracks in the spring and summer of 2015 to spread the word on biosecurity. On their visits, officials discussed how to improve biosecurity and provided an assortment of training materials.   The biosecurity campaign is more than just a communications success story; it created tangible resources for the equine industry, both racing and non-racing. The training content used has been added to Equine Guelph's equine biosecurity two-week online eWorkshop and has been modified and distributed to a general equine audience across Canada.   The project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.   Now available on - all horse owners and care givers can learn Canada's biosecurity code for Equines.   You can also access Equine Guelph's free Biosecurity Calculator to evaluate the biosecurity risk on your farm. In 10 minutes you can be on your way to a biosecurity plan utilizing simple ways to protect your horse from infectious disease.      

This is a reminder to all Harness Racing Industry participants, that with the increased movement of horses associated with breeding activities, horses being broken in, and horses moving into training, that we all need to be aware of the possible occurrence and transmission of Strangles. Currently there are three properties temporarily quarantined in Victoria because of the occurrence of Strangles. Streptococcus Equi Equi - Strangles -  is a highly contagious and generally an upper respiratory tract bacterial infection of horses. Clinical signs of the disease may include an elevated temperature, mucopurulent nasal discharge, and enlargement of the lymph nodes beneath the jaw/throat area, which may lead onto abscessation, difficulty eating, and difficulty breathing (the origin of the word Strangles). Rarely horses will develop abscesses in other sites either externally or internally such as in the abdominal or thoracic cavities - abscesses in these areas are the cause of what is known as Bastard Strangles - these horses become chronic poor doers, usually carriers, and can die of complications associated with the abscesses. There is a view in veterinary circles that horses that are gelded while incubating Strangles are at a greater risk of developing post-operative complications such as peritonitis, and it is thought to be unwise to geld horses that have recently been exposed to horses with Strangles.   Strangles can be fatal at worst, and occurrence normally leads to easily preventable animal welfare issues, and severe economic loss through interruption to training and racing. Strangles is immediately notifiable to both Harness Racing Victoria and the State Government Primary Industry Departments. Harness Racing Victoria participants are required to inform Harness Racing Victoria (the Stewards Department) and their own veterinarian immediately if they have reason to suspect that Strangles is present in a horse or property under their control - an accurate diagnosis is well worth the effort. Strangles is highly contagious and difficult to eradicate from stables and horse populations once established. The best chance of eradicating Strangles from a property is to stop further spread from the primary case. Industry participants are strongly encouraged to review Bio-Security and basic horse health management practices such as regular temperature taking (particularly in racing horses), and to Quarantine, as best as possible, new or returning horses to properties, especially racing stables. Strangles is spread not only by close horse to horse contact, but also by the use of common gear, feed and water troughs, tie-up areas, and horse transport vehicles ie floats and trucks.   Vaccinations are available to help prevent and minimise the effects of Strangles – an initial course involves 3 vaccinations 2 weeks apart, followed up by 6-12 monthly boosters to maintain immunity - the most economic solution is to use a combined Strangles Tetanus Vaccination. Harness Racing Victoria Stewards, Anthony PEARCE, Stephen SVANOSIO can be contacted in relation to strangles on 03 8378 0289. Harness Racing Victoria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with Equine Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and other partner organization, is working to develop a farm and facility-level biosecurity standard that will help protect Canada's equine industry from animal diseases. Members of the racing community are asked to review the document and provide feedback. The feedback will be reviewed by the Equine Biosecurity Advisory Committee. Biosecurity standards for Canada's equine industry  

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of a confirmed case of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1), in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The text of the Notice is pasted below. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has determined that this case does not involve a racehorse. However, due to the infectious nature of this virus, the ORC urges participants to take appropriate steps when such cases are reported. Outbreaks of neurological EHV-1 are contagious and have a significant risk of mortality. ANYTHING that touches an infected horse or carries secretions or manure from sick horses has the potential to transfer pathogens to other horses. The horse owner voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread. To date, there have been no further reports of equine illness on the farm. In 2014, there was one laboratory-confirmed case of EHM in Ontario due to the non-neuropathogenic strain. This is the first case diagnosed in Ontario this year; however, cases of EHM have been diagnosed in Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and New Jersey this month. EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal foal death, and/or neurological disease. EHV-1 is not a federally reportable disease but is immediately notifiable by laboratories under the reporting regulation of the provincial Animal Health Act. Attending veterinarians suspicious of EHM should contact OMAFRA as soon as possible. Because infected horses may show no clinical signs, but still shed the virus, the temperature of suspect animals should be monitored twice daily for 14 -21 days and any abnormalities discussed with a veterinarian. Neurological signs, if they develop, may include loss or balance, hind-limb weakness, recumbency, difficulty urinating, decreased tail tone and depression. It is important that a veterinarian assess suspect cases of EHM since it can be difficult to distinguish this from other serious neurological diseases, such as rabies. EHV-1 is easily spread by nose-to-nose or close contact with an infectious horse, by sharing contaminated equipment (bits, buckets, towels etc.) or by the clothing, hands or equipment of people who recently had contact with an infectious horse. This highlights the need for routine biosecurity measures (including hand hygiene and basic cleaning and disinfection practices) to be in place at all times to prevent a disease outbreak. Special attention should be given to cleaning and disinfecting trailers. Current EHV-1 vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.  

Montreal, August 7 2014 – Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis, announced his intention to put forward a bill that would redefine animals in the Civil Code of Quebec and grant them the status of sentient beings. In order to proceed with this reform, Mr. Paradis reached an agreement with the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée. Mr. Paradis’ announcement comes in response to the Animals are not things manifesto, which was launched on January 22nd and has been signed by over 46 000 people. The manifesto, which is supported by theMontreal SPCA, calls for a reconsideration of the legal status of animals in the Civil Code of Quebec. Currently, our Civil Code considers animals to be moveable property, indistinguishable from a toaster or a chair. Under civil law, the act of hurting or abusing an animal is therefore tantamount to the destruction of property. The SPCA applauds Minister Paradis’ willingness to reform the legal status of animals. “Given the importance and complexity of this issue, as well as the fact that over 46 000 Quebec citizens have expressed their concern about it, it is crucial that public consultations take place before moving forward with a bill” said Me Sophie Gaillard, Lawyer and Campaigns Manager for the Montreal SPCA Animal Advocacy Department. “We feel that this is an opportunity to effect real change for animals in this province and for Quebec to become a leader in animal welfare instead of lagging behind.” Anita Kapuscinska, Media Relations Coordinator, Montreal SPCA, 514-226-3932, or

Harrisburg - The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today announced a quarantine of two barns at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Bucks County, after a horse stabled at the track tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 on Saturday, Feb. 15. Barns 19 and 32, housing 74 horses, were quarantined Saturday as a precautionary measure. No other horses have shown signs of illness, but were exposed to the positive horse during the past several weeks. Clinical signs of the disease can range from respiratory to neurological impairment. In most situations, the disease is only mildly contagious. There is no threat to human health from Equine Herpesvirus. The barns and horses are quarantined for at least 21 days before the quarantine can be lifted. Movement of horses is carefully restricted to prevent close contact with the rest of the horses at the track. Strict sanitary and biosecurity standards are enforced. A quarantine order at the track was lifted in January following negative test results from horses that were diagnosed with Equine Herpesvirus in November. Horse owners with concerns may call the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2852. Samantha Elliott Krepps, 717-787-5085    

Agriculture Department Issues Equine Herpesvirus Quarantine for Bucks County Race Track Harrisburg - The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today issued a strict quarantine order at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Bucks County, after a horse stabled at the track tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus, Type 1. Some horses at the track came into contact with the positive horse and have shown clinical signs of the disease, ranging from fever to neurological impairment. The horses remain under quarantine until test results are completed. There is no threat to human health from Equine Herpesvirus. Barns housing the positive horse and horses showing signs of the virus are quarantined for at least 21 days. Horses must be free of clinical signs for 21 days and test negative for the disease before the quarantine can be lifted. Under the quarantines, movement of horses on and off the track is restricted. Quarantined horses are not permitted to train and strict sanitary and biosecurity standards are enforced. The highly contagious virus causes upper respiratory infection and severe neurological disease in horses. Horse owners with concerns may call the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2852. Media contact: Samantha Elliott Krepps, 717-787-5085  

First Choice Marketing announced today plans to host the 14th Annual Hambletonian Continuing Education Seminar for Equine Veterinarians, to be held in conjunction with the 88th Annual Hambletonian Festival of Racing in East Rutherford, NJ.

The Harness Horse Breeders are pleased to announce current information on Buffalo Raceway's policy to allow horses shipped from Canada to participate in NYSS events, with proper safeguards in place. We applaud their efforts to protect the health and well being of our horse population and their support of the New York harness racing breeding program

George Ducharme's plans for stakes-winning trotter Royalty For Life are in limbo. The harness racing trainer is stabled at Vernon Downs, which is under quarantine since a case of Equine Herpes Virus-1 was diagnosed there on May 4.

There will be live harness racing at Vernon Downs this weekend by permission of the New York State Gaming Commission.

Vernon Downs' harness racing stable area remains under quarantine as a safety precaution after a case of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) was diagnosed on Saturday.

After a confirmed case of equine herpes at Vernon Downs, management and the New York Gaming Commission have made the decision to cancel harness racing tonight at Vernon Downs in the best interest of the harness racing community.

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