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Action taken at Bowie in equine virus scare

The Baltimore Sun

The horses at a Bowie Training Center barn are under restrictions after one of them showed signs yesterday morning of the same equine herpes virus that crippled Maryland racing two years ago.

The horse in question, who was not named and had been stabled in Barn 7, was tested and moved into an empty barn. Barn 7 can hold 20 horses, but it's unclear how many are currently stabled there. Department of Agriculture orders prevent the horses from racing or training, and allow them to walk only their own shedrow.

The restrictions will remain in effect at least until test results are known. Blood samples and nasal swabs were taken from the suspect horse yesterday afternoon. Results should be available later this week, possibly as early astomorrow, said Maryland Jockey Club president Chris Dragone.

"Right now, there are no positive test results, just speculation," Dragone said. "I don't want to jump the gun, but we already are taking an aggressive approach - isolating the horse, letting people know about the situation and monitoring it closely."

At least one trainer in a nearby Bowie stable is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"Remember, I had a horse acting a little funny during the 2006 incident and they quarantined my barn," said trainer Chris Grove, whose horses are lodged in Barn 1 at Bowie. "But the results came back negative. It is nerve-wracking to wait for the test results, but for the good of the industry you have to go along and simply follow your normal, daily routine."

Maryland fought a battle against the Type 1 equine herpes virus, which causes upper respiratory infections and also can lead to neurological disease and death, from Jan. 6 to March 8, 2006.

During that stretch, six horses were euthanized and 18 others were made ill by the disease at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, a Kent County farm and the Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton.

The illnesses led to a 19-day quarantine of all horses at Pimlico and to the virtual quarantining of most horses in Maryland by out-of-state tracks until March 18 of that year.

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