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Horse euthanized at Bowie; test results negative for virus

27 horses there are isolated; tests sent to Ky. vet for confirmation

By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun

8:06 PM EDT, September 21, 2013

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Twenty-seven horses at the Bowie Training Center have been isolated after a filly became sick and had to be euthanized Saturday, according to the Maryland Jockey Club.

It was suspected that the horse might have equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), but the preliminary test results came back negative Saturday, according to Mike Gathagan, vice president of communications for the Maryland Jockey Club.

The horse in question, a 4-year-old filly named Clonmeen Lass, owned by Annette Eubanks, had been exhibiting "colic-like symptoms" for a number of days, according to Dr. David Zipf, the Maryland Racing Commission's chief veterinarian.

"This morning, she was down and couldn't get up," Zipf said. "Before she was euthanized, they took a nasal swab and blood sample. We have to distinguish that it is and isn't the equine herpesvirus type-1. It is very contagious. Most of the time it is fatal."

The test will now be sent to Rusty Ford, the equine programs manager for the Kentucky State Veterinarian's office, for confirmation. Those results are expected by Wednesday morning. The hold order to isolate the other horses will remain in place until those results are back.

The last time Clonmeen Lass raced was Aug. 30 at the Timonium racetrack, according to Zipf.

"There is a slight chance that it has had contact with other horses other than in the barn," he said.

Attempts to reach Eubanks for comment Saturday were unsuccessful.

As a precaution, there will be round-the-clock security outside Barn 16, where Clonmeen Lass was stabled, at Bowie. In addition, anyone leaving the barn will be required to change his clothes and disinfect his feet, Gathagan said.

The hold order affects horses trained by Eubanks, Bobby Lee Plummer and Patrick Magill.

Equine herpesvirus-1, also known as "rhino," causes upper respiratory infection and can also cause neurological disease, according to Gathagan.

"There is currently no known method to reliably prevent the neurologic form of EHV-1 infection," Gathagan wrote in a release. "Transmission of the virus can occur via coughing or sneezing over a distance of up to 35 feet as well as by direct contact with infected horses, feed and equipment."

The Bowie Training Center stables 490 horses, according to Gathagan. By comparison, Laurel Park holds 742, and horses are not stabled at Pimlico when live racing is not being held, Gathagan said.

The last case of equine herpesvirus in Maryland occurred in 2008 at Pimlico, when five horses died, Zipf said.

"It's not real common, but it pops up," Zipf said. "It is very perplexing. It can be latent in the horse's body. For some reason, it kicks in."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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