• Photo by Molly Montag

South Point Ups Biosecurity After EHV-1 Positives in Nevada

The South Point Arena & Equestrian Center increased its biosecurity measures after state officials announced a case of Equine Herpes Virus type 1 (EHV-1) was reported in Nevada.

South Point Arena & Equestrian Center General Manager Steve Stallworth said the Las Vegas venue — which will host the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Stallion Stakes March 30-April 6 — has voluntarily canceled an upcoming March 22-24 team penning event as a precautionary measure and to comply with the request state officials made of all equestrian venues in the state.

“There were no EHV-1 horses at our facility, boarded at our facility, even passing by our facility,” Stallworth said of the South Point. “This was a Junior and High School Rodeo issue, and the state vet recommended that we restrict movement of horses in Clark County this weekend, and so we simply are agreeing with his order to do that.”

Nevada State Veterinarian Dr. J.J. Goicoechea urged all horse events be postponed through March 24 in light of the positive EHV-1 tests in Nevada. On March 15, the Nevada Department of Agriculture reported a horse in the state had tested positive for EVH-1 and that horses may have been exposed to the contagious disease at a Nevada High School Rodeo event held Feb. 22-24 in Pahrump, Nevada.

Since the initial positive test, the Nevada Department of Agriculture says it has received two more reports of EHV-1 positives and placed a total of three horse facilities in Clark County, Nevada, under quarantine. A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Agriculture would not name the places that were quarantined, citing state law, or say if the affected facilities were public areas or private farms and ranches.

Stallworth said the South Point was not placed under quarantine, but its crews will still enforce strict biosecurity measures in order to protect horses at upcoming events at the venue. Biosecurity has been an important part of the South Point Equestrian Center’s operations since it was built, he said.

“[The South Point] was designed with biosecurity in mind: no porous surfaces,” he said. “Every surface in our stall is hard, either metal, concrete or poly.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, NRCHA Veterinarian and Animal Welfare Committee Chairman Dr. Joe Carter commended the South Point Equestrian Center for what he said were among the best biosecurity procedures in the country. Some of the measures include disinfecting stalls, aisles, wash racks and other common areas where horses congregate.  

A statement issued by the NRCHA said the average incubation period for EHV-1 is four to seven days, but some may take up to 14 days. Canceling the upcoming team penning event not only allows the South Point more time to take extra biosecurity steps, but also provides a longer period between horse events at the arena.

“With horses arriving on grounds [for the NRCHA Stallion Stakes] starting Thursday, March 28, we are well outside of the incubation period,” Carter said in the NRCHA’s statement. “Also, the chances of cross contamination are very low given these are two different genres of horses.”

The South Point is not the only Western performance horse venue that is taking extra steps to prevent the spread of disease among horses. The Great Southwest Equestrian Center, which in April will host the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC), recently announced it was requiring health certificates written within seven days of the event. The requirement, implemented to prevent the spread of strangles, was enacted after horses became sick after attending a hunter-jumper event at the Houston-area facility.

Carter, the NRCHA’s veterinarian, said common sense and simple preventions are the best weapons against EHV-1, which can cause respiratory disease in young horses, abortion in pregnant mares and occasional neurological disease in older horses. Additionally, horse owners and exhibitors play a big part in preventing the spread of EHV-1, as well as other contagious diseases like flu and strangles, he said. 

“Bringing your own clean feed and water tubs; making sure your horse has booster shots; [and] disinfecting bits and other shared equipment between horses are all basic practices that can go a long way toward prevention,” Carter said. “Whether it’s Clorox, Pine-sol or some other disinfectant you buy from your feed store or vet, it is always worth the extra steps.”

Horses competing in the NRCHA Stakes will be required to have a negative coggins (Equine Infectious Anemia) dated within six months. Exhibitors must also present a 30-day health certificate for their horses upon arrival, as is standard at NRCHA events.

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