EHV-1 Scare at San Miguel County Fairgrounds

It is the second time that San Miguel County Fairgrounds has closed its doors and cancelled all racing and equine related events in a quarter century. The San Miguel Racing Association Spring Race Meet was immediately cancelled after news broke the EHV-1, equine herpesvirus, was found in the West. As a precautionary measure, the majority of events have been called off and horse owners have put their horses under quarantine, not wanting to risk infection. Manager of the San Miguel County Fairgrounds, DeeAnna Burbrigde, commented that the grounds would be closed until further notice.

Other public equine venues have also closed to protect and prevent the spread of the equine herpersvirus. No cases have been found in San Miguel County yet, but no-one is prepared to take a chance. The horses at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds have been boarded and will only be able to move once it is safe to do so, with no new boarding horses being accepted during this time of closure. Colorado reported to have twenty-two horses that were suspected of having equine herpesvirus, while nine cases were confirmed. Two horses have also been euthanized as they began to show neurological symptoms of the virus.

The virus can be spread through both indirect and direct contact of horses. For mares that are in foal, the disease can cause an abortion of the foal and also causes horses to have respiratory problems. It can also cause paralysis, pneumonia and ataxia, and if not caught in its early stages, with enough time to inject the vaccine, the virus leads to the death of a horse. It can spread through the air and through human interaction, feed buckets and even through their tack.

Burbridge also added that Colorado has cancelled numerous events and that owners should weigh up the risks before traveling with their horses during this time. Remaining informed in regard to the confirmed cases and the spread of the disease will assist in making decisions that will not put horses at risk of being infected, or infecting others.

After investigation, it is suspected that a horse which participated at the National Cutting Horse Associations’ Western National Championships, which was held in Ogden, was responsible for the start of the spread of the disease. Due to Ogden being in Utah, many events in this county were suspended and horses quarantined immediately. All horse owners and venues will be waiting for the all clear before resuming events and travel.