Today, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has confirmed that two horses residing at Woodbine Racetrack have tested positive for the neurotropic strain of EHV-1. Both horses are 2-year-old thoroughbred horses that resided in Barn 12 at Woodbine.
The horses were transported from Woodbine to the Ontario Veterinary College for testing and treatment on Saturday May 16, 2020 after showing neurological symptoms, along with a third horse that subsequently tested negative. The AGCO received the results late on Saturday May 16, 2020.
The AGCO has directed that four additional horses residing in Barn 12 at Woodbine be isolated as a precaution. One of the four horses has been isolated because it resided near the two positive horses. The three other horses have fever symptoms but have otherwise not shown signs consistent with EHV-1.
The health and safety of horses and of all people involved in the sport of horse racing is the AGCO’s top priority. Due to the infectious nature of this disease, the AGCO has ordered the implementation of various infectious disease protocols to protect our equine athletes. The following measures are now in effect:
- In order to determine whether the disease has spread to horses in other barns, no horses are to exit Woodbine Racetrack without AGCO approval until further notice. This restriction will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
- No horse is allowed in or out of Barn 12 until further notice, including for training, except for emergency veterinary treatment or to be isolated. This restriction will be reviewed, based on the progression of the disease.
- Only essential people shall enter Barn 12.
- All horses stabled at Woodbine must have their temperatures taken and recorded visibly on the horse’s stall door for twice daily inspection. Trainers with horses that have clinical signs consistent with EHV-1 infection (including fever of 101.5 F/38.5 C or higher) or respiratory signs (cough, nasal discharge, and/or neurological signs) must immediately report these findings to their veterinarian.
- Equine dentistry is not permitted, except for emergencies.
- Only ponies housed in the same barn will be allowed to pony horses.
Horse people who had horses at Woodbine Racetrack within the last seven days should monitor their horses for any signs of illness.
Horse people are reminded to remain vigilant and institute appropriate biosecurity measures and should consult their veterinarians for advice.
To ensure best practices are in place to contain the disease, the AGCO received input from the infectious disease expert Dr. Scott Weese from the University of Guelph and worked closely with Woodbine management, veterinarians, and horse people.
The AGCO will continue to closely monitor the situation and any further developments will be reported. EHV-1 cannot be spread to humans and is entirely unrelated to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information
Dr. Adam Chambers
Senior Manager of Veterinary Services
Additional resources on biosecurity
- Equine Guelph: Infection Control Resources
Infection Control at the Training Centre (5:04 min). Watch as international expert, Dr. Scott Weese, walks you through a training centre and points out the keys to infection control and protecting your horse.