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Two horses euthanized after EHV-1 outbreak in California

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Two horses have been euthanized after an EHV-1 outbreak in California – one at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal and one at the LA February Horse Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. 

Back on the 11th of February 2022, Desert International Horse Park announced that there were three confirmed cases of non-neurologic EHV-1 at the venue. The three horses were immediately quarantined and were under bio security restrictions. Representatives from the State of California Veterinary Office were involved in all decisions taken, and the show organisers worked closely with the California Department of Food & Agriculture as well as US Equestrian. 

On the 18th of February, access for new arrivals to Desert International Horse Park was closed. The next day, Desert International Horse Park followed up with more information on the seriousness of the situation as one horse that had developed neurologic symptoms had to be euthanized. In a statement, the organisers wrote:

“The situation at the horse park is very serious. And it is constantly – almost hourly – evolving. It is nearly impossible to create an accurate picture of the situation on an on-going basis. Horses that tested negative test positive two days later. Horses that tested positive test negative as they recover. Horses with the non-neurologic strain of EHV-1 develop neurologic symptoms and are then classified as EHM. But they do not carry the neurologic strain of EHV-1. This is a complex virus. We are working closely with the experts, and at their direction, on priorities, actions, and resources. 

In the past day, we have identified additional horses in other barns with EHV-1. These horses have been immediately isolated. Cohorts of exposed horses have also been quarantined in different barns. Of the three original horses in isolation, two have now tested negative. We have three additional positive cases, but all were horse that earlier in the week tested negative. All are stable and currently asymptomatic. We sadly also had two febrile horses develop neurologic symptoms. One of these was euthanized last evening. Our hearts are sad.”

On Sunday 20th of February 2022, West Palms Events Management – organisers of the LA February Horse Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank – announced that three horses which had attended their event had previously been in Thermal. The horses had returned to their home barn, but travelled on to Los Angeles after five days of isolation rather than seven. “As soon as we became aware, we notified the trainers, and those horses left the property that same day. Furthermore, both trainers assured us that they were monitoring temperatures and all horses in their care had normal temperatures. We contacted Dr. Katie Hatch, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) veterinarian. Dr. Hatch agreed the risk was extremely low, however out of respect to the home boarders at LAEC and out of an abundance of caution we will not offer another show in the coming week,” West Palms Events Management wrote in a statement. 

During the week, West Palms Events Management followed up with further information on the development of the situation as one horse at the LA February Horse Show venue had an elevated temperature and another horse was experiencing symptoms potentially related to EHV. “The veterinarian is monitoring this horse and we will share test results when we receive them,” read a statement from West Palms Events Management on the 22nd of February 2022. “The horse with the elevated temperature from yesterday results came back and are negative so that is good news.”

However, today, on the 23rd of February, the LA February Horse Show announced that one horse had been euthanized. In a statement, West Palms Events Management wrote: 

“Unfortunately, we are sad to report that the second horse from yesterday has been put down. We are sending our condolences to the owners and trainer of this horse. 

This horse exhibited no symptoms until late yesterday afternoon when it became neurological, and experienced such severe symptoms that it was euthanized. Lab results will take a couple days for conclusive answers on what happened.”

For full information on the status, please visit the website of Desert International Horse ParkWest Palms Events Management, US Equestrian and the CDFA website.



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