OCALA.COM — APR. 12, 2013 — The final quarantine related to the recent outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) at the HITS showgrounds in February has been lifted.
Montera Farm in Ocala was released from quarantine on Wednesday, April, 10, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry.
The outbreak started after a horse on the HITS showgrounds at Post Time Farm in Blitchton tested positive for the illness on Feb. 21, at the height of the nine-week equestrian show.
Because of the nature of the show, which has hundreds of horses coming on and off the property every day, nine other farms in Marion County got caught up in the outbreak after horses that were at HITS later tested positive for the illness at the farms. All told, 13 properties were quarantined.
While the virus was determined to be of the wild strain, which is much less aggressive than the mutant strain, the outbreak caused some farms to lose business.
“They read herpes in the headline and they stop reading,” said Betsy Calder, owner of Calder Farm in Ocala, which had a partial quarantine placed on it that reportedly resulted in a loss of thousands of dollars worth of cancelled business.
The mutant strain is more dangerous because it is more likely to include potentially fatal neurological effects.
The outbreak also spurred tighter health and vaccination requirements at several horse facilities, including the Florida Horse Park and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.
None of the horses affected by the illness died. Two were sent to the University of Florida for treatment and have since recovered, according to the department of agriculture.
“The investigation has ended as there are no additional suspected or confirmed cases and all exposed horses have met the requirements for quarantine release,” noted the state’s press release.
The farms released from quarantine include Up Country Farm, Ocala; Redfield Farm, Ocala; Flutterby Farm, Ocala; Kings Ridge Farm, Reddick; Calder Farm, Ocala; Hard Ford Farm, Reddick; Wisconsin-based Chestnut Hill (temporarily in Ocala for HITS); Montera Farm, Ocala; Black Forest Farm, St. Augustine; Brookmore Farm, Oviedo; Foxwood Farms, Pinellas Park; Littlewood Farm, Wellington; and Miles Away Farm, Loxahatchee.