December 29, 2006

The Wellington, Florida, based Palm Beach Equine Clinic says it was not aware that an EHV positive horse was admitted to its hospital until news of the outbreak became widespread.

A horse from the European shipment was admitted to PBEC on December 2, four days after it arrived in Wellington. It was discharged from the hospital on December 3.

Dr. Robert Boswell, D.V.M. says: "Unfortunately, the doctors at Palm Beach Equine Clinic were unaware of the multiple sick horses and of the neurological cases associated with that European shipment. These horses were being treated by other veterinarians in our area, and until December 15, we had no knowledge that the horse admitted to our hospital on December 2 was part of that shipment of EHV-1 positive horses."

When the doctors at PBEC became aware that one of the horses from that shipment had been at their hospital, they immediately contacted all veterinarians who had referred cases to the clinic between December 1 and December 14.

"The horse that we had (from the index shipment) and sent back on December 3 was never tested until the 18th of December," Dr. Boswell went on to say. "Once the outbreak was recognized, we assumed that all of the horses that had been on that shipment or been exposed to those horses had been tested. When we called to verify that the horse that was here had been tested, we were informed that it had not. We paid for it ourselves to test it because we wanted to know for sure. We wanted to be sure that it was a positive test that had been here (at Palm Beach Equine Clinic), and it was."

As of December 14, PBEC has been on strict voluntary quarantine protocol. They have not accepted any horses into their hospital, nor have they discharged horses. There are currently four horses at the clinic with no known exposure. They have all tested negative through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a technique used to identify the virus through nasal swabs, and buffy coat, a blood sample. These four horses are stabled in a separate isolation tent and are awaiting the results of a second testing on December 26.

PBEC is located next to the Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex, part of which is under mandatory quarantine, which houses hunter/jumpers and polo ponies. "We wanted to treat each barn as an individual barn as opposed to quarantining the entire sports complex," said Dr. Boswell. "We've tested every horse in there, and all of the show horses have tested negative. The only horses that we've had come back positive are some polo ponies. In the (Sports Complex) quarantine facility, we haven't had an elevated fever in seven days."

He added, "What we're looking at doing is that, at the last symptom of fever, you wait until day 18 after that to test (for EHV-1). The results will come back on day 21. If you're still without fevers for those 21 days, it's done."

PBEC did have one horse test positive in their separate quarantine facility on December 18. Another horse that had been stabled in the quarantine facility was suspect on December 16, but has since tested negative.

This positive horse in their quarantine, along with the original horse admitted on December 2, were traced as the cause of two horses becoming sick outside of Wellington. One was shipped to Ocala, Florida, and the other was sent to Payson Park, a racing facility in Indiantown, Florida. Both treating veterinarians for those horses were contacted by PBEC once they were aware of the problem and handled the situation with their horses. The horse at Payson Park showed neurological symptoms after leaving PBEC and was euthanized after it was put in isolation. The horse in Ocala is currently healthy.

Dr. Robert Brusie, D.V.M., D.A.C.V.S. said, "Dr. Pat Maloney in Ocala should be commended for his quick actions." Dr. Boswell added, "There should be something positive said about the veterinarian who recognized the Ocala horse right when it got off the van and saved Ocala. When we called Dr. Pat Maloney, he immediately took care of the situation and they do not have a problem there."

PBEC would also like to thank the doctors from the State of Florida Department of Agriculture for all of their efforts. Dr. Michael Short D.V.M. has been in Wellington since December 15, has worked with the local veterinarians and has helped contain the outbreak.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic will re-open its hospital and will receive new cases on January 2, 2007.