Possible equine virus case being investigated in Garfield County
GARFIELD COUNTY – Garfield County has joined the growing list of Colorado counties with horse properties under a hold order due to a possible case of equine herpes virus.
Colorado Department of Agriculture spokesperson Christie Lightcap said the undisclosed Garfield County property came under the hold order on Friday for a possible case of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1).
The outbreak EHV-1, which can be fatal, started at a cutting horse show in Ogden, Utah, that concluded on May 8, investigators suspect.
Of nine confirmed Colorado cases, some are in neighboring Mesa County. As of Friday, there were another 22 suspect cases.
A total of 12 hold orders and/or quarantines have been issued in eight Colorado counties, including Garfield, Gunnison and Mesa on the Western Slope, Lightcap said.
“We do have a hold order in Garfield County involving a specific premise,” Lightcap said. She could not reveal the specific location of the property due to confidentiality.
“A hold order means that no horses are allowed in and no horses can leave that particular property until we get the test results back,” she said, emphasizing the order does not affect the county as a whole.
If the test comes back negative, the hold will be released. If it’s positive, a full quarantine for that property will be issued for a period of time, Lightcap said.
She said it usually takes between two to five days for test results to come back.
To date, two horses that tested positive for EHV-1 were euthanized after showing severe neurological signs associated with the disease, according to state officials.
In Mesa County, as a precautionary measure, horses are being banned from using the Mesa County Fairgrounds equestrian facilities, and several upcoming equestrian events will be canceled as well.
Garfield County Fairgrounds officials could not be reached for comment Friday on whether any events there might be affected by the EHV-1 outbreak. A quarterhorse show was on the fairgrounds schedule of events for Saturday.
One local rodeo series that had planned to start this weekend was canceled, however, due in part to concerns about the virus.
The first in the Los Llaneros rodeo and concert series was to be held at the Rising Hearts Ranch between New Castle and Silt on Sunday. Organizers were before Garfield County commissioners earlier this week seeking a liquor license for the event.
The liquor license hearing ended up being postponed due to a problem with noticing, but organizers were told the event could go on as planned as long as no liquor was sold on the premises. Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico said she got a call on Wednesday saying the organizers would hold off for the time being due to the equine virus.
Another upcoming summer rodeo series, the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo, is taking a wait-and-see approach before its first scheduled event on June 2, said rodeo committee vice president Mike Kennedy.
“We’re hoping to be able to continue as planned, but we are watching it closely like everyone else,” Kennedy said. “We’ve been talking with our rope and stock contractors on the Eastern Slope, trying to get updates.
“We will definitely be taking some precautions to eliminate any concerns with our event, and talking with our contestants to see how everybody feels about proceeding,” he said. “If it is a concern, we might have to look at delaying a week or two.”
The Carbondale Rodeo series is scheduled to take place every Thursday, beginning June 2, through August at the Gus Darien Riding Arena on County Road 100.
Colorado State Fair organizers have voluntarily canceled three equine events over the next three weekends, following the spread of EHV-1.
“We decided to reschedule these events to limit the number of horses traveling to and from our fairgrounds,” State Fair General Manager Chris Wiseman said in a prepared statement. “Our horse shows are important to the fair and to Colorado as a whole, and we want to be proactive in protecting our horse community.”
Horse owners are advised to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best vaccination and treatment strategy. More information about EHV-1 and travel tips for horse owners can be found at http://www.colorado.gov/ag.
Locally, Alpine Animal Hospital near Basalt is also posting updated information as it becomes available on its Facebook page.
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