BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is monitoring all horses entering Louisiana from Illinois after reports of at least 68 horses that tested positive in recent months for Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 (EHV-1) at the Hawthorne Race Course located in Illinois. Horse owners must provide health certificates to the Louisiana State Veterinarian’s Office prior to entry.
“This is a precautionary measure to prevent exposure to horses in Louisiana. The Louisiana Office of the State Veterinarian is monitoring the outbreak at Hawthorne Race Course. This is a highly contagious disease and we will prohibit all horses from Illinois from entering the state unless they are cleared by a veterinarian,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
According to Stanley Seeling, president of the Louisiana Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association, horses typically travel from Hawthorne Race Course to Louisiana for the winter races. EHV-1 is a DNA virus that can cause fever, lethargy, abortion, respiratory and neurological issues and can cause death. It can be spread directly from horse-to-horse or indirectly through coughing or contact with physical objects contaminated with the virus.
Those objects include: tack, wipe rags or other grooming equipment, feed and water buckets and people’s hands or clothing.
The health certificate must disclose that the horse has not been on Hawthorne’s grounds in the preceding 30 days. EHV-1 is not contagious to humans.