EHV-1 strikes Indio on eve of HITS

By February 8, 2012

A second Southern California region went on high alert for EHV-1 on Jan. 20 when a diseased horse was identified at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Riverside County. The horse ― which displayed neurological signs of the Equine Herpes Virus 1 ― was euthanized on Jan. 23 after testing positive and the facility was quarantined.

The incident sent ripples of concern through the HITS Desert Circuit show seven miles away, where roughly 1,000 hunter/jumpers are expected to board between Jan. 24 through March 11. But the show was classified as “extremely low risk” by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and other veterinary experts, and went ahead with its opening as planned.

On January 11 a facility in San Juan Capistrano was quarantined after five horses were diagnosed with EHV-1 and a nearby Blenheim Equisports hunter/jumper show at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park cancelled. A total of 16 cases have since been diagnosed at that facility, the latest being identified Jan. 25.

The CDFA quarantines are lifted after 21 days without a new case. As of Feb. 7 there have been no new cases in Southern California.

HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri and the HITS Show Management team have been engaged in daily communication with the CDFA as well as Mike Manno – Official Veterinarian for the Empire Polo Club.

Manno said there are about 1,000 horses on the premises at Empire and of those, only one other animal raised concerns. “One horse had a mild fever, but no signs of illness.” The horse was isolated but the fever quickly subsided and test results came back negative.

“It’s really operations as normal here,” said Duncan Peters, DMV, MS of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Kentucky and the official veterinarian of the HITS Desert Circuit. “The State Vets did an excellent job of assessing any potential risk and they have told us that Thermal is considered very low risk. Everyone here is 100% confident with everything proceeding as normal. We have precautions in place and the communication from the state to show management and the vets onsite to the customers is open, accurate and frequent.”

HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri said show management continues to be vigilant in order to ensure that the show grounds and the equestrians are well-protected.

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