Coincidence and irony of the tragic kind hit the horse world Wednesday night with the announcement in the Gainesville (Florida) Sun newspaper that two horses were dead and a Jonesville horse farm is under quarantine by Florida's Division of Animal Industry. The diagnosis: Equine Herpes Virus, Type 1.
This morning I interviewed Dr Bill Jeter of the Division of Animal Industry who confirmed the basic facts of the story. He said that the sick horses were on an isolated horse farm, which has now been quarantined, and he felt that this outbreak was minor and not a health risk to other horses in the state of Florida.
The outbreak hit the press amidst news of Equine Herpes Virus, Type 1 affecting horses who competed at a cutting horse event in Utah earlier this month.
Jeter stressed that the horses who died in Florida were not connected to the cutting horse industry and that no horses from the Utah cutting event had been shipped to Florida, Georgia, or Alabama. The EHV virus is dormant in most horses and can be activated by stress or other factors, he said, and he believes that is what happened with the Jonesville horses, who were both older animals.
Like their counterparts in other eastern states, Florida officials are answering an onslaught of horse owner and horse show organizer queries with the response that there is no reason for panic or cancellation of events, but that horse owners and caretakers should practice good hygiene and biosecurity procedures with their horses at all times, both at home and at events, regardless of whether or not the disease is in the news.
Jeter said that the basic facts recounted in the Gainesville Sun article are accurate enough that his office does not intend to issue a statement to the public about the Jonesville deaths and quarantine. "It's already all over the place," he said.
And now you know it's basically true.
Learn more: Read Gainesville Sun: "12 Horses Quarantined After Two Are Euthanized"