Number of horses with equine herpesvirus grows at Fair Grounds

Number of horses with equine herpesvirus grows at Fair Grounds

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Fair Grounds Race Course officials confirmed Friday that 28 additional horses are in isolation at the track after contracting the equine herpesvirus.

And another horse, which has left the Fair Grounds also contracted the virus there and is in isolation at another location.

The virus is potentially deadly to horses if they show signs of neurological damage. The first horse that contracted this disease was euthanized because of that, but officials here say that the additional horses that have contract the virus have not shown signs of any neurological damage as of Friday.

Thursday, state officials issued a complete quarantine of the Fair Grounds because of the virus outbreak. That means no horses are allowed to leave and no new horses are allowed to come into the track.

The Fair Grounds stables 2,000 horses and the commissioner of agriculture said that about 300 of those horses are quarantined at this time to stop the spread of this virus.

Senior director of operations Brad Bryant said the races will continue.  A starlight race is scheduled at 6 p.m.

"It's going to reduce the fields. As this progresses we are going to have less horses to pull from. Being that we're under the quarantine, horses cannot ship in so we're going to have to utilize what's on the grounds, and by osmosis that's going to reduce the number of horses that we can choose from and that will reduce the field sizes," Bryant said.

There were nine races scheduled Friday. They bumped that back to eight races to make sure more horses are available to race at later dates.

The quarantine is also affecting other race tracks. Many elite horse train in New Orleans to race at other venues around the country. Those horse either cannot train or have been quarantined.

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