VHC Status Update on EHV-1 Announcement

LEXINGTON, VA. As we reported in our press release on June 22, 2023, The Virginia Horse Center has navigated the recent Equine Herpes Virus exposure by following the instruction of the Virginia State Veterinary Office supported by the VHC Biosecurity Protocol and several veterinarians onsite. The goal has been to ensure the safety of the horses at the VHC and to keep the owners, trainers, riders and handlers of the horses informed of the procedures needed to do so. As of this release no horses, other than the initial two, have shown any symptoms of EHV.

On June 20, 2023, the first day of the Shenandoah Classic Horse Show, a horse in the early morning showed abnormal symptoms and was shipped to Rood and Riddle in Lexington, KY.  The next morning, a 2nd horse from the same stable and same owner showed the same symptoms.  It was shipped immediately off the grounds to Rood and Riddle also. At about 9:30 pm that night, tests came back positive for EHV.  Getting these horses off the grounds immediately proved to be possibly the most important action taken for this incident.  One horse is recovering and the other had to be euthanized with neurologic symptoms.

The Virginia Horse Center’s BioSecurity Plan was immediately implemented with calls to Virginia State Veterinary officials, the USEF Biosecurity Veterinarian, and show management. Our show veterinarian was already working with the affected stable’s veterinarian.

At 10:00 am Thursday morning, an on-site meeting was held with State Veterinary officials and management.  This was followed by a meeting of trainers in the affected barn.  They were informed all 80 horses in that barn were under quarantine.  These horses have now been allowed to ship out with the approval of their destination State Veterinarian.

Next, a meeting was held with all unaffected (not quarantined) trainers (barns).  About 120 people attended that meeting.  All meetings were led by Dr. Abby Sage, VMD, DACVIM, of the State Veterinarian’s office.  Since these horses were not under quarantine, Dr. Sage stated that the show could continue.  After some mixed discussion, it was eventually determined by management to continue the show for those not under quarantine.

Since these meetings, all horses on the grounds have been having their temperatures taken twice per day.   No horses on the grounds since the 2 sick horses departed have had a temperature of either 101.5 or above.

Dr. Sage pointed out in the meetings that the virus can only live outside the horse for 48 hours unless in water.  Also, the virus only spreads from a horse up to 30’. She also explained that from first exposure to the first symptom is 7 days.  The horses had been on the grounds for 2 days when the first symptom occurred, therefore neither of the horses would have contracted the virus on the Horse Center grounds.

By Monday morning, June 26, all stables at the Horse Center for the Saddlebred show will be off the property except one stable from Texas with 28 horses.   This layover barn is not under quarantine but will be stabled alone in Barn 6 and will not leave the barn and school only inside the barn.

None of the 80 quarantined horses will be on the grounds after this Sunday, June 25.   Starting Monday morning, the State Veterinarians office will have a special team on the grounds disinfecting every stall and grounds equipment such as Bobcats, tractors, muck buckets, rakes, etc.  Dr. Sage has stated that after Monday the Virginia Horse Center will have the “safest stalls in the country”.

Glenn Petty, VHC CEO stated “The Virginia Horse Center cannot state enough how appreciative we are for the professional and common sense leadership of Dr. Abby Sage and Dr. Tabitha Moore, State Veterinarian’s office; Dr. Ginger Reagan, show veterinarian; Dr. Hugh Behling, Kalarama Farm veterinarian; Dr. Katie Flynn, USEF BioSecurity Veterinarian; and R H Bennett, show manager. We had a great team and thoughtful management of the situation worked. Also, the trainers and exhibitors could not have been more supportive and cooperative.  At the end of the large trainer meeting, the team was given a round of applause for the handling of this situation.”

Moving onto the grounds next week will be the Arabian Horse Association Region 15 and 16 Championship and the Vaulting Region IX Championship.   We will be ready for these 2 shows.  The House Mountain Hunter Jumper Show scheduled for next week has been moved to July 18-19.

If anyone wants more detailed information, please contact Glenn Petty, VHC CEO at gpetty@horsecenter.org or 540/464-2969 or go to the Virginia Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services website at vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-equine-herpes-virus.shtml