Oaklawn Park Takes Precautions

Over a thousand horses have descended on the Oaklawn Park Racecourse in anticipation of the start of the new racing season, which kicks off on 16 January 2009. Many horses have been moved ahead of time to be able to enjoy training sessions and settle into their new surroundings. The transfer however was halted for a brief period, as many racecourses were dealing with the threat of the highly contagious Equine Herpes Virus, and even though none of the horses at the Oaklawn Park Racecourse tested positive, they were not taking any chances, especially with the opening of the racing season looming.

The Equine Herpes Virus poses no threat to humans, but is extremely contagious between horses. It appears in different forms, of which the EHV1 and EHV4 are the most common, and is a virus that is feared by horse owners as it can cause long term health problems and can even be fatal. As the virus affects the horse’s immunosuppressive system, they are not able to fight off other diseases and infections, putting them at a high risk of succumbing to illness and also affecting the respiratory system of infected horses. Medicine is available to treat the Equine Herpes Virus, but some horses have been known to suffer from a range of health related problems long after the virus has been treated. Some horses become carriers of the virus; have immunosupression issues for years; or are susceptible to repeated infections and sub-clinical diseases. Symptoms of the Equine Herpes Virus are water discharge from the nasal cavities, high temperatures, lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, coughing, ocular discharge and paralysis, to name a few. In young horses, viral pneumonia can occur and it can also cause abortions in brood mares. So in all, Equine Herpes Virus can cause major damage in a racing stable, short term and long term.

Louisiana was the region hit hardest by the outbreak, forcing many stable yards to quarantine their horses and causing Oaklawn Park Racecourse to halt the shipping of Louisiana horses to their stable yard. It seems that Louisiana officials have been able to control the situation and testing at Oaklawn has come up negative for all strains of the Equine Herpes Virus. The good news has placed Oaklawn Park Racecourse back on track for the racing season, and all horses are cleared to race. It is set to be an unforgettable season of racing action.

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