HITS Ocala: Show Goes On, and So Does EHV Quarantine; Vet Seminar Planned for Tuesday

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The experience of state officials and veterinarians in Florida seems to be paying off in the successful containment to date of a possible outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (strain EHV-1) at the large hunter-jumper show known as "HITS Ocala" in central Florida.

The Ocala location is especially vulnerable because the community is a highly active horse center. Thoroughbred farms in the area are shipping mares to be bred this time of year, sales go on, and local trainers and breeders routinely ship horses in and out of the area.

The potential for a widespread outbreak of any infectious
disease is high in a community like Ocala.

The potential for a widespread outbreak of any infectious disease is high in a community like Ocala, but so far, the virus has only affected a single horse, which was quickly transferred to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital, where it is being treated.

The horse show issued a statement today to notify the public about the situation on the showgrounds, a portion of which is relevant to the EHV situation:

OCALA, FL (February 25, 2013) - HITS, Inc. is very happy to report that no new cases of EHV-1 have been detected at HITS Ocala. The infected horse that was competing at the show last week continues to do very well at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville.

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The horse was diagnosed with the wild-type strain of the EHV-1 virus (read below for EHV-1 strains defined)*.

One tent at HITS Ocala remains under quarantine, and all horses stabled in that tent remain in excellent health with no symptoms whatsoever. Exhibitors are urged to continue to be diligent in abiding by bio-security measures, including a consistent daily temperature-check schedule. There are no restrictions on horses coming or going from the show grounds or over Florida state borders.

(end of HITS statement)

HITS also included, for reference, a quote from the California Department of Food & Agriculture about the different strains of Equine Herpes virus:

"There are two strains of EHV-1 ubiquitous in the environment. The wild type non-neuropathogenic strain of the virus most commonly causes respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal foal death, but may occasionally result in neurological disease. Licensed vaccines effective against this strain of the virus are available.

"The mutant neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1 (NEHV-1) most commonly causes the neurologic disease syndrome, Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM). Currently manufactured licensed vaccines have no label claims to protect against the mutant neuropathogenic strain."

Meanwhile the proactive attitude and activities continue; the University of Florida Veterinary Hospitals will offer a free evening seminar tomorrow (Tuesday, February 26, 2013) at 6 pm at the Marion County Extension Auditorium, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road in Ocala.

Entitled "Equine Herpes Virus?1 Update: What You Need to Know", the seminar will feature veterinarians from the University of Florida and state officials experienced with biosecurity and disease control.

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The list includes?Dr. Amanda House, Dr. Martha Mallicote, and Dr. Rob MacKay, from the university. Dr. Michael Short and Dr. Diane Kitchen will represent the Florida Division of Animal Industry.