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Ocala HITS Show Responds to EHV Threat at Showgrounds in Florida - The Horse Owner's Resource

Ocala HITS Show Responds to EHV Threat at Showgrounds in Florida

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Equine Herpes Virus has been diagnosed in a horse that was removed from the showgrounds of the HITS Show in Ocala, Florida last night.

Kristin Vale, officer manager for the showcase winter hunter/jumper show in Central Florida responded to a call today to provide information about the situation with the event.

"Yes, a horse had to go to Gainesville last night," she reported. "About all I can tell you is that it is in stable condition and did test positive for EHV."

"Go to Gainesville" is Ocala-speak for a horse being transferred from the showgrounds to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine's Large Animal Hospital, about an hour south in Gainesville.

As a result of the positive test, show officials have been meeting with state veterinarians; a meeting for trainers and riders on the grounds was held this morning to explain the situation.

Details regarding the form of the disease have not yet been reported by the State of Florida.

As of 1 p.m. today, the old saying, "The show must go on" sums up the mood on the grounds, where classes are continuing today. The exception is Tent 7, where the sick horse was housed. That tent, and the horses stabled in it, are considered to be under quarantine.

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Vale said that Tent 7 contains about 100 stalls, including tack stalls.

She did not have information on the horse that was taken to Gainesville, but said that she had no reason to believe that it was a recent arrival, and that it had probably been on the grounds for some time. The show has been going on since January, with about 1500 horses stabled on the grounds, although "they come and go," according to Vale. This week is the sixth in a nine-week show.

"No horses are allowed in or out," Vale said, referring to the quarantine area.

HITS, she said, was not ready to issue an official statement about the sick horse or about the quarantine, she said, since state officials are still at work.

An interesting aspect of this outbreak is that HITS is a series of hunter/jumper shows held in different regions of the country, including New York and California, as well as Florida. Last year, a regional?EHV outbreak in southern California included horses from the Thermal HITS Show.

As a result, the Thermal show initiated a strict set of horse health and biosecurity regulations for the 2013 season, which included specific health statements from the horse's veterinarian, and proof of vaccinations.

Vale said that the restrictions were in place in California for the Thermal show but that the Florida show had not adopted them as requirements. "We consider them suggestions for this first year, we're easing into it," she reported. "California is more of a hot bed for this kind of thing."

She said she expected the suggestions would become requirements for the 2014 show.

Vale was cheerful and positive about the show going on, and said that the show is managing the horse health situation with officials.

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