The Parx Quarantine
-By Dick Jerardi
It is unfortunately becoming a near-annual and seemingly unavoidable rite of winter at Parx, a 21-day quarantine due to the Equine Herpes Virus, EHV-1.
“We’ve been down this road before with quarantine,” said Dr. Craig Goldblatt, the Veterinary Medical Field Officer (VMFO) at Parx for the Pennsylvania State Racing Commission. “However, the last instances were state-issued quarantines.”
Parx management made the decision on this quarantine after a horse from trainer Ramon Martin’s stable tested positive for the virus.
“There are basically two forms of the virus, a respiratory form and a neurologic form,” Dr. Goldblatt said. “The quarantines we’ve had in the past, it’s a horse that has developed neurologic signs and tested positive for the virus. And then the state gets involved and issues a quarantine. In this particular instance, there was a horse in Barn 27 of Ramon Martin’s that got sick and went to Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey and was subsequently diagnosed with EHV-1, but the non-neurologic form, the respiratory form.”
Track management did not want to take any chances that the virus would spread, so the quarantine was put into place. The effect is that, until the quarantine is lifted (likely on Jan. 30 if no other horses test positive for the virus), no horses can leave the Parx barn area and run at another track. Horses that ship in to race have to stay in the barn area until the quarantine ends. The biggest effect is on the horses in Barn 27 which, in addition to Martin’s horses, also include those trained by Penny Pearce and Mario Dominguez. Those horses can’t leave their barn to race or train.
The only horses allowed to leave Parx during the quarantine must receive special permission if they have to go for a medical necessity like a surgical procedure.
“The virus is very strange in the way it behaves,” Dr. Goldblatt said. “Sometimes, the horses with the respiratory (version) can develop neurologic signs. If that were the case, the state would get involved. There wasn’t in this case, but everybody wanted to err on the side of being cautious because when you have horses that are shedding the virus you don’t know. There’s always a possibility that the neurologic form may rear its ugly head.”
The horse with the virus left the stable area Jan. 8, so 21 days gets us to Jan. 30 when the quarantine hopefully will be lifted.
“It’s the race track’s decision,” Dr. Goldblatt said. “If they decided they wanted to extend it or change it in any way, it’s really up to them.”
According to Dr. Goldblatt, the horse with the virus is getting better and, if the horse eventually tests negative for the virus, would be allowed back in the barn area.
During the quarantine, if vets have to treat a horse in Barn 27, they make that their last visit of the day so there is less chance for the virus to spread.
“The virus can be spread by direct contact, but also indirect contact like getting the virus on somebody’s hand and then passing it to another horse,” Dr. Goldblatt said.
So everybody is being ultra-cautious until the all-clear sign is given.