Wellington Virus Update: What About Next Time?

It sounds like people in Wellington, Florida are not burying their heads in the sand after the frightening outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) in the horsecentric village in December. An article in yesterday’s Palm Beach Post chronicles a town management plan to, in the future, move sick horses immediately out of the show barns and into isolation tents located in city parks.

It’s interesting that the town management is so involved and realizes the importance of avoiding another show season disaster. Had the December outbreak occured in January or February, the potential for many more horses to have been sick is high, as well as the cancellation of major shows and events.

The “move ’em out” scheme brings into question the liability of stable owners when a naive trainer or owner ships a healthy horse down there and it’s put into an empty recently-vacated-by-a-sick-horse stall in a barn that may or may not have the virus clinging to fixtures, equipment, and personnel. Is it the horse or the premises that need to be separated?

True, there are some questions to be asked and answered, but at least they are thinking proactively.

I’m just waiting to see a new line of antiviral face masks and mouthwashers or throat sprays for horses come on the market. And coveralls for grooms and vets and farriers, who would need disposable aprons. When someone asks me in the future, “Can I try your French snaffle on my young horse?” it will have to go in the autoclave (medical tool sterilizer) first. Maybe stabling for horses at shows will be individual modules that can travel with the horse and/or be moved to quarantine with the animal, like a more elaborate design of the cargo crates for horse transport.




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