L.A. Equestrian Center on quarantine over virus; one horse put down

The Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank has been put under quarantine after several horses tested positive for equine herpesvirus, which resulted in one horse being euthanized because of the illness.

Twelve horses at the 75-acre facility have been in quarantine since Nov. 3 when two horses showed signs of neurological complications and tested positive for the virus, Kent Fowler, the animal health branch chief for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said last week.

Seven cases of  equine herpesvirus have since been confirmed at the equestrian center, with the last known infection occurring Nov. 14, according to the agency's website.

Equine herpesvirus is a common virus in horses. However, the state agency became involved when equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, a rare neurological form of the disease, was found at the equestrian center, Fowler said.

"Normally, this is just a respiratory disease that creates a fever, and often times, because of the fever, the horse will go off feed for a little bit as well," he said. "But on occasion, this virus can affect the spinal cord and brain."

As of Thursday, no additional horses had been diagnosed with the virus and the six that have the neurological disease are showing signs of improvement, Fowler said.

On Nov. 3, a 5-year-old saddlebred displayed severe neurological symptoms and was euthanized "for humane reasons because of the severity of the symptoms," Fowler said.

The other horse showing moderate signs of neurological complications that day, a 10-year-old saddlebred, was put into quarantine, where it has been slowly recovering.

Fowler said the disease came about after eight horses returned from a Las Vegas horse show held Oct. 27 through 29.

He added that there have been no reported cases of the virus outside of the equestrian center.

The Department of Food and Agriculture will continue to monitor the horses in quarantine until their symptoms have cleared, which can take a couple of weeks.

For precautionary measures, Fowler and his team have been disinfecting footwear and stalls and making sure that the horses are not sharing saddles, water buckets, brushes or lead ropes.

George Chatigny, general manager of the equestrian center, wrote in an email Tuesday that he appreciates the help from the state during the outbreak and said he appreciated those who have volunteered at the facility during the quarantine.

"Our common denominator is the horse," he wrote. "It is important we do all we can for our faithful friends."

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Carpio writes for Times Community News

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