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Additional testing required in possible equine virus case

The Baltimore Sun

Tests on a horse that showed signs of the same equine herpes virus that killed six horses and made 18 others ill two years ago in Maryland have to be redone.

The blood test was negative, and the nasal swab was inconclusive. Yesterday's news from the Maryland Department of Agriculture was both good and bad for the horse's trainer, Rob Bailes, who has 18 other horses in his barn that continue to be restricted.

"I would have been happy with two negatives," Bailes said. "But they tell me it is better to have the soft positive in the nasal test than the blood test."

The horse in question remains isolated in a remote barn behind the grandstand at the Bowie Training Center. The equine herpes virus causes respiratory infections and also can cause neurological problems and death.

The Maryland Jockey Club said new samples from the horse were taken for both the blood and nasal tests yesterday afternoon and sent to the University of Kentucky. Maryland Department of Agriculture veterinarian Marla Stevens told the MJC she was assured if the samples were at the Kentucky lab by 10 a.m. today, results would be known by this afternoon.

Bailes has already scratched seven horses from competition and is unable to enter any more in competition until the situation is resolved.

Asked how many more horses have been kept from the starting gate because of another round of tests, Bailes laughed glumly.

"I quit looking," he said. "I don't want to get depressed. I'm not going to look until the situation is sorted out."

Bailes said none of his other horses is showing signs of the disease and the one in isolation is continuing to look better.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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