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Racing suspended at New Mexico track due to equine herpesvirus outbreak


Affected horses are in isolation in Sunland Park, New Mexico.

Image via www.casinoair.comSunland Park Racetrack and Casino, a horse racing track located near the border of New Mexico and Texas, has suspended its season for at least 14 days effective January 22 when five horses were confirmed positive for neurologic equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), according to TheHorse.com.  

There are several strains of EHV; according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), EHV-1 is one of two most common strains and can cause four types of disease in horses, including neurological signs, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death. EHV-1 is contagious and spread through contact: either directly from horse to horse or indirectly via human handlers, feed and water buckets, grooming gear, riding tack and trailers.

What's the best way to explain EHV-1 to clients? 

Speak to the client on his or her level, says James Guenther, DVM, MBA, CVPM, co-owner of Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Asheville, North Carolina.“While you may be comfortable with technical terms, your clients may not,” he says. “It's your job to determine how much they know and explain the disease in simple terms. Be practical, not technical.”

Can I combat the rumor mill?

Anytime horse owners fear for their animals' health, the rumor mill starts churning. Set yourself up quickly as the go-to source for reliable information, Guenther says.

"Do your research, then show clients you've done so," he says. "Be the first to send out a series of articles on the topic, offer links to appropriate informative websites, and be available to answer questions by phone or email. Make yourself the authority, and your clients will be more likely to come to you-instead of to other misinformed horse owners.


In a statement to El Paso news channel KVIA, Rick Baugh, general manager of Sunland Park Racetrack, said the track would postpone live racing for an initial period of 14 days, in the interest of the horses' safety.

The El Paso Times reports that as of January 26 there have been 12 confirmed cases of the virus. Those horses remain in isolation, along with two other horses that have shown symptoms of the virus. A statement from Sunland Park indicates that the first affected horse was a 5-year-old thoroughbred mare that was been euthanized after becoming ill.

According to the AAEP, prevention of further outbreak centers around two methods: vaccination and biosecurity. KVIA reports that biosecurity measures have been taken at Sunland Park, and samples are being taken from horses suspected of having the virus. The samples will be tested at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory in Albuquerque.

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