JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
A contagious disease that has led to a quarantine of horses at Woodbine Race Track in Toronto will likely have an impact on operations at the Fort Erie Race Track.
Jim Thibert, chief executive officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, tells Bullet News none of the horses stabled at the Fort Erie Track have been diagnosed with equine herpes virus, but track staff and owners/trainers are monitoring the animals for any signs.
On Wednesday, the Ontario Racing Commission issued a notice to the industry, including orders, after five horses at Woodbine were confirmed positive for the disease.
One horse was euthanized on June 10.
A second horse in the same barn was transported to the Ontario Veterinary College for further evaluation and treatment.
Thoroughbred racing will continue at Woodbine. However, due to the infectious nature of this disease, the ORC has ordered the implementation of various infectious disease protocols to prevent the spread.
Among the orders issued is the directive that no horses are to exit Woodbine for seven days (until June 19) without permission of the ORC.
Thibert said on a typical race day in Fort Erie, about 20 horses would normally ship in from Woodbine.
As long as the quarantine is in effect, that could mean fewer horses per race.
“Where this is going to affect us is with horse supply,” said Thibert.
That means an average race with eight or nine horse regularly, might only have five or six, Thibert said.
Fort Erie and Woodbine are the only two thoroughbred race tracks in Ontario.
Major changes in the industry due to the cancellation of slot funding for the industry means race tracks are already coping with an under-supply of horses available for races.
“The entire industry is already under a tremendous amount of stress – this is just one more thing,” said Thibert.
According to the ORC, owners and trainers who had horses at Woodbine within the last seven days should monitor them for any signs of illness.
Standardbred horses are not stabled at Woodbine Racetrack. As well, the standardbred racing meet concluded at Woodbine May 20 and moved to Mohawk Raceway May 23. Therefore, the June 15 North American Cup at Mohawk will not be impacted by these measures, the ORC reports.
There was an outbreak of equine herpes virus among standardbreds in Campbellville in May of this year, but it was a different strain, according to the ORC.
According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the EHV-1 form of the virus can cause respiratory diseases, abortions and neurological disease. It is not spread by sexual contact, but rather by aerosol transmission when infectious droplets from coughing or snorting are inhaled by a non-infected animal.
Fever is one of the most consistent – and often the first – clinical signs of the illness.
Equine herpes virus poses no risk to humans.
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