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Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (10/24)

Update to Barn A Isolation

It has now been over one week since Barn A at Hawthorne was placed under isolation with the concern of possible positives for EHV-1. Since that time, it was confirmed last Tuesday that two horses had passed due to EHV-1.

At the recent ITHA general membership meeting last Saturday, Illinois state veterinarian Dr. Dawn Folker and myself laid out the details of the virus, along with an update and actions that had be implemented by Hawthorne, beginning 10 days ago.

In the meeting Dr. Folker made some key statements: first, there is no way to know how the virus was introduced and there never will be a way to truly know; second, this is a virus that is transported via contact and is not known as an airborne virus; and third, the protocol that has been in place in regards to the handling of horses within that barn, along with on the Hawthorne backstretch, paddock, starting gate and receiving barn is above and beyond the requirements issued when an EHV-1 positive is noted.

As we sit here today, 10 days after the first signs of EHV-1 were noted and Barn A was put under isolated we can make some further assessments: there have been no neurologic cases of EHV-1 on the remainder of the Hawthorne backstretch, and we believe that through the protocols that have been put in place the virus has been confined to Barn A and Barn A only and there have been no new neurologic cases within Barn A.

At the end of last week, tests on all of the horses in Barn A were conducted. Those tests are returning with expected results by Dr. Folker which is a good sign. The majority of horses within Barn A have shown no signs of EHV-1 symptoms at all while some that have shown fevers have been treated accordingly and are all responding well to treatment. There have been no new signs of neurologic symptoms within Barn A.

Unfortunately for those within Barn A, this is not a quick process. The horses will be tested multiple times. Hawthorne Race Course has picked up the cost of the first round of tests for all horses within the barn. The ITHA has offered assistance for a round of tests as well. As test results return, we will be implementing the next stage of isolation. The next stage of the isolation will involve providing a second location where the horses that have tested negative from Barn A will be located. These horses will still be under quarantine but can be monitored as negative and separate from those horses that have tested positive. We are currently getting the logistics together for that location as the location will still be monitored in the same manner as Barn A and will not have any other horses on the Hawthorne backstretch within that location.

In regards to the remainder of horses on the Hawthorne backstretch, we continue racing. During this process, we will continue to disinfect the receiving barn daily, and the detention barn, paddock, and starting gate every race. Security will remain at Barn A around the clock and we will continue to monitor who has access to that barn while taking the proper measures to ensure those within the barn are following rules that have been in place for the past week.

As time passes and it has been shown that there has been no spread of this virus beyond Barn A, we expect restrictions to be lifted from other racing jurisdictions, along with Fairmount Park, within our state. We continue to allow horses to ship in and out, and between myself and Dr. Folker we will continue to communicate with jurisdictions in regards to the process and steps being taken at Hawthorne.

As always, we ask horsemen to continue to monitor activities within their own barn. We ask that horsemen instruct their staff about the importance of proper hygiene and how it can affect horses. Additionally, we ask horsemen to continue to notify their practicing veterinarian or state veterinarian at any time at which a horse spikes a fever. While a fever can occur, especially at this time of year, for a multitude of reasons, it is important to make sure it is treated quickly and properly.

Finally, I want to thank the horsemen for their patience and help during this time. Unfortunately with EHV-1, the process is not quick and while we have done everything we can to stop the spread and continue racing, we cannot control what other jurisdictions choose to do. I thank the horsemen for their support at the entry box and their understanding with all that is going on, this is not an easy situation, but the support of all involved is why we continue to race.

As we have further information to provide, I will pass it along.

Jim Miller Assistant General Manager, Hawthorne Race Course
Mike Campbell ITHA President

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