ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The state of Florida has now quarantined 13 farms in central and northeast Florida, after concerns over the spread of equine herpes virus.
Black Forest Stables in St. Augustine is a boarding facility where 10 of the horses that may have been exposed during a recent horseshow in Ocala are now staying.
"This one I just bought," said Colleen Acosta as she showed Action News her newest horse. "I brought her to the tent for one day and now she's quarantined."
Acosta is a Texas horse trainer who came to Black Forest Stables after appearing at the HITS horse show in February. She was supposed to leave St. Augustine last week for another show, but can't because the state is concerned her horses now carry the virus.
"I had to call the vet and ask 'what is the worst, and will they ever come out of this, and how much danger am I in'?"
This particular strain of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) may cause neurologic and respiratory disease and can be spread through feed buckets and grooming tools. Days after arriving at Black Forest, the virus struck the same HITS showbarn where Acosta's horses had been during the competition. The state tracked her down soon after the discovery was made, and to stop it from spreading, enforced an immediate quarantine for 13 farms and the still-ongoing show for at least 21 days.
"I feel like I'm in a better position than being at the horse show with everybody that's still exposed."
Jacksonville trainer and owner of Coriander Farms Katie Young still has four horses at the show, unable to come home.
"Our horses are in a tent that has been cleared and we're keeping them far away from the paths that the sick horses took. We're hoping by the end of the show, which is March 16, that the quarantine will be lifted and it will be no consequence to us at all."
Florida's outbreak is affecting the industry nationwide, but both trainers believe the state is doing all it can under unusual circumstances.
"Every day there is a new update on the situation, if more horses are infected or more barns are quarantined," says Young.
But there are still many unanswered questions, like how the outbreak started in the first place, and if horseshows will now enforce new regulations to prevent another outbreak in the future.
Acosta says the quarantine is inconvenient for her customers and other shows that were expecting bigger turnouts, but says the priority is the health and safety of the entire industry.
"The state will continue to check on us everyday until the 11th, but at this point I feel like we're good. They're doing the right thing."