Still more bad news drifts northward from Florida, and my heart goes out to all the horsemen, riders, vets, farriers, van drivers, massage therapists--the entire community of horse professionals who are surely doing their best to contain the outbreak, and protect the healthy horses.
The so-called "Victory Lane" horse has been diagnosed as positive for EHV-1; this time at hunter/jumper rider Jackie Leemon's Victory Lane Farm in Wellington, Florida.
This story was born at the same time as this blog, and it has certainly dominated the news. I did not expect to focus so much on one story, but this story has a global impact on the horse show and racing worlds.
It is disturbing to report that this is the "neurological" strain of what we used to call the "rhino" virus. There is currently no vaccine specifically targeting the neurological strain, although the standard EHV vaccine given to our horses can lessen the symptoms, according to the information supplied by the leading authorities in the field.
The incubation period for the virus can be two weeks or up to four weeks, depending on whose advice is heeded. In order for the shows to go on, a period of at least two weeks without any additional cases will be needed. Every time a new case is identified, the counter goes back to Day One.
What's at stake? America's premier East Coast winter series of hunter/jumper/dressage shows, attended by the world's top riders. Horses routinely fly in from the UK, Paris, and beyond. Some have arrived for the season, others are waiting nervously for an "all clear".
In the same area are many of the world's top polo and racehorses, not to mention breeding stock and show horses of virtually all breeds, especially Spanish and Portuguese breeds. But let's not forget that there are many horses kept for recreational riding and companionship throughout South Florida, and that they are just as valuable, and just as much at risk, if they have been out on trails, at arenas, on horse vans, or at vet clinics where infected horse may have shed the virus.
The racing industry has only just recovered from EHV outbreaks that paralyzed racing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland; an outbreak last year affected Kentucky tracks.
Among today's news stories is the footnote that two of the world's most valuable stakes horses, Breeders Cup champion Invasor and 2005 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, have been sent back to New York by trainer Kieran McLaughlin, who trains from for Shadwell Stud and Sheikh Hamdan of Dubai. McLaughlin is taking no chances. The pair was stabled at the Palm Meadows training center, which has not been affected by the outbreak. Both horses are expected to ship to Dubai for the World Cup races in March.
Meanwhile, the world's top-rated stakes horse, Discreet Cat, is due to ship home to Dubai this week, but is presumably detained at Payson Park, which is under quarantine following the death of a horse there earlier this week.
On the lighter side, if there is one, the Florida equine virus made the gossip pages of the New York Post this week; the columnist speculated on the inconvenience that heiresses and celebrities have experienced by having to disinfect their shoes before entering barns. My guess is that the heiresses and celebrities are leaving matters to the professionals at a time like this.
The list of articles about the outbreak is growing; a lot of duplication exists on the web so I have provided one link to each major story and tried to identify the source publisher. Sometimes that is not easy.
The following farms, training centers, and equine clinics are currently under quarantine:
* J N Stables - 15680 46th Lane S, Wellington, FL
* S & L Farms - 13155 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL
* Equine Services Ltd. (Isolation Barn only) - 4751 South Road, West Palm Beach, FL
* Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex - 13124 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL
* Palm Beach Equine Clinic (Isolation Barn only) - 13125 Southfields Road, Wellington, FL
* Reid & Associates (Isolation Barn only) - 1630 F Road, Loxahatchee, FL
* Pinehurst Stables - 10095 165th Lane North, Jupiter, FL
* Tuxedo Farms - 7780 NW 137th Avenue, Morriston, FL 32668
* Payson Park - 9700 SW Kanner Highway, Indiantown, FL
* Victory Lane - 14875 Palm Beach Point, Wellington, FL
Articles for December 28:
Nona Garson clinic re-scheduled, notes on health aspects of sport horse auction
Articles for December 27:
State of Florida Virus Update for 27 December
Articles for December 25:
State of Florida Equine Virus Status Update