Equine herpes scare: Nearly 450 racehorses quarantined in Warren County

WARREN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Hundreds of horses are now on a herpes watch in Warren County. One has already been diagnosed with the highly contagious equine herpes virus.

Fortunately, humans are immune.

Two things causing concern this week? The health of the animals and the wallets of the owners.

Nearly 450 racehorses who are stabled at the Warren County Fairgrounds are under quarantine, meaning no animals can come in and none are allowed out.

The horse veterinarian says the equine herpes virus, or EHV, is an airborne disease that can strike any one of the animals. Experts say there is a variant of the virus that causes neurological problems.

Danny Stone owns eight race horses there, most of them valued between $15,000 and $30,000. He said he won't get a paycheck while the animals are under quarantine.

"Just like going into work, not having a job and being laid off -- I mean, there's no way of racing, no way of making an income," he said.

Stone says these animals require attention and a lot of it -- around the clock and seven days a week.

"You can't just shut the lights off and go home," he said. "You have to be here all the time in the mornings and then you might get a couple hours break before you race all night ... they're like family. You just take care of them the best you can."

Warren County is not alone in dealing with EHV.

This past Friday at Turfway, one racehorse fell ill and couldn't be saved -- the animal was euthanized. FOX19 NOW has been told other horses at Turfway also tested positive.

There's nothing left for these owners to do but to wait it out.

The quarantine is expected to last about three weeks in Warren County.

One owner tells FOX19 NOW that will cost $500,000 in lost income. The horses can't race, but they still need food and the attention of groomers and trainers until they see another starting gate.

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