East Tennessee horse quarantine coming to an end

7:05 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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A horse quarantine issued in East Tennessee is coming to an end this week.

After a horse at Dixie Stampede in Dollywood died from Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 in September, veterinarians took extra caution to prevent the bug from spreading.

Vets at the UT Equine Hospital treated the animal before it died, and also stayed under quarantine for two weeks. UT Veterinarian Dr. Carla Sommardahl explained caution was necessary when dealing with a highly contagious virus like EHV.

"Just like you would protect your kids from contagious diseases, you need to protect your animals. And horses are just at risk like any other animal," she said.

Dr. Sommardahl said no other horses at UT contracted the virus. She says the vet school has received hundreds of calls from concerned horse owners and veterinarians.

"We hope people will take home from this incident, is that they will be more careful when they travel with their horses, and they will follow some of the bio-security guidelines that we suggested," Dr. Sommardahl said.

She said the hospital lifted its quarantine Friday.

"We are back to business as usual, admitting patients, seeing patients at the hospital," she said.

A spokesman for Dollywood said Dixie Stampede had five more horses fall ill, so the quarantine there was extended to 21 days. He expects that quarantine to be lifted sometime later this week.

Many local barns put their horses under voluntary quarantines, as an extra precaution. At SouthWind Stables in Knoxville, manager Tracy Highsmith says she isn't taking any chances.

"What we did was sanitize between horses, we kept the herd closed in, didn't have horses in and out going on trail rides or shows," she said. "We didn't bring anybody in, I delayed bringing in a new boarder."

Now that the quarantine is lifted, Highsmith says the horses are back to their usual routine. She isn't too concerned about the virus reaching her stables, but will be extra careful.

"One thing that I'm very cautious about is the owners that have horses here that might have horses at other stables. Still, being just a little overly careful about changing shoes and washing hands between two facilities," she said.






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