Woodinville Barn Quarantined After Outbreak of Deadly Horse Virus

  • Written by By Theresa Bujnoch
The owners of Gold Creek Equestrian Center in Woodinville say they are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of a deadly and highly contagious virus that has claimed seven horses at their facility.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the horses were euthanized in December after contracting a neurological form of equine herpesvirus-1.
“It’s very scary,” says Gold Creek co-owner Mike Adams. Adams and his wife Brenda purchased the 10-acre facility just last September, along with Gael and Patti Gable.
The owners are working with state officials to determine how the virus reached the barn, but in the meantime, they want to do all they can to contain it.  Gold Creek is currently under quarantine.  No horses may leave or enter, and only essential personnel and owners are allowed on the premises. Within the barns, Adams says they are following the WSDA biosecurity measures for farms, which includes disinfecting all items used around the horses.
“Our barns smell like bleach,” says Adams. 
Equine herpesvirus-1, or EHV-1, most commonly occurs in a respiratory form, but the virus that caused the deaths of the Gold Creek horses is the neurological form, also known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM.)  Vaccines have proven effective against the respiratory strain, but do not protect horses from EHM, which leads to damage of the spinal cord and brain.
Early signs of EHV-1 include a fever and discharge from the eyes or nose.  The virus is spread through horse-to-horse contact and isn’t contagious to humans, but it can be transmitted via humans through contaminated skin, clothing, equipment, even trailers.  Since the virus can live outside a horse’s body for up to seven days, many horse owners in the area are voluntarily limiting their exposure to other equines.
“This is a big deal,” says Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Joseph. “I’m not advocating people stop doing things with their horses, but be smart.”
Dr. Joseph  is  in  daily  contact with Gold Creek’s owners, and describes all those caring for the quarantined horses as “unbelievably dedicated.”
For his part, Mike Adams says he’s amazed by the outpouring of support from the local equestrian community as well as Woodinville as a whole.  They’ve received donations of bleach, gowns and other useful safety materials.
“We got into this because we love horses and boarded here.  We loved the facility and felt Gold Creek was our family,” says Adams. “This adversity has brought people even closer together.”
Adams clarified that a GoFundMe site collecting donations for Gold Creek horses was set up independently by a riding student, and that proceeds would be used to offset the veterinary care for affected animals.  He added that any leftover funds would go toward reimbursing the barns’ trainers and instructors for lost income.
“It’s especially hard for people because it is the holidays. There’s not a lot of celebrating when you’ve lost horses that were part of people’s families.”

Gold Creek’s owners are posting updates on the facility’s Facebook page.
For additional updates and information about EHV-1:
Dr. Joseph’s WSDA blog:
Equine Disease Communication Center:
American Association of Equine Practitioners:

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