Thurston County arenas take precautions in the wake of deadly equine herpes outbreak

Eatonville High School’s equestrian team trains at Stewart’s Arena and Stables near Yelm in 2016.
Eatonville High School’s equestrian team trains at Stewart’s Arena and Stables near Yelm in 2016. Olympian file photo

Local equestrian centers are taking steps to protect their animals after seven horses in Snohomish County contracted a form of equine herpes and had to be euthanized.

Stewart’s Arena & Stables near Yelm wrote on Facebook late last week it would “not allow any horses on the property, and if a horse that is boarded at the barn leaves, it may not return until we lift the (voluntary) quarantine.”

Lacey Oaks near Olympia posted on Facebook this week it would not allow new boarders or any horses to unload at the arena, while Stick Horse Ranch south of Olympia closed its arena and canceled all events though Jan. 15 due to the outbreak.

Horses that left would not be allowed to return “until things improve up north,” according to a Stick Horse post on Facebook.

Seven horses at Gold Creek Equestrian Center in Woodinville were euthanized after the outbreak, which was reported Dec. 13, according to The Seattle Times. The center is under a quarantine for the foreseeable future, meaning no horses are allowed in or out, according to a Facebook post Wednesday.

The virus, known as EHV-1, affects the central nervous system and there is no vaccine or cure, though some horses who contract the virus do recover, according to KING-5. The Times reports it is not thought to be a sexually transmitted disease; instead it spread through an animal’s eye and nose secretions and by people who have not disinfected their hands, boots or riding equipment.

The virus cannot be contracted by humans.

Gold Creek said Wednesday two more of its horses were showing neurological symptoms but improving, while another horse had an elevated temperature but no neurological symptoms. State veterinarians have not found the source of the virus at Gold Creek, according to KING-5.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869, @AbbySpegman