Horse racing at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course has several weeks to go in the season; however, one group of horses isn't racing after a disease quarantined all the horses in one of the facility's stables.

One horse was euthanized last week at the facility after being diagnosed with EHV-1, or equine herpesviruses type 1, a potentially deadly variant of the virus.

While no other horses have been diagnosed with the neurological form of EHV-1 in Barn 8 so far, the virus is highly contagious and easily transferable through nasal excretions to other horses and through direct contact between horses.

When the EHV-1 virus is found, it must be reported to the State of Ohio Department of Agriculture and state veterinarians within the department, who must mandate a plan of action to prevent the disease from spreading.

State Veterinarian for the Ohio Division Chief for Animal Health for the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Dennis Summers, told 21 News while equine herpesviruses are found in most horses, much like the herpes virus in humans that cause cold sores, however, EHV-1, in the neurological form, can be deadly to horses.

"During times of stress, the virus will flare up and start replicating in the body," Summers said. "Horses sometimes get infected when they are young, as juveniles, and then it kind of stays with them for life," he added.

If EHV-1 manifests into a neurological form, it can be fatal if not dealt with appropriately and must be reported to the state. Horses with the deadly form of EHV-1 can become unstable and show shows of spinal cord or brain issues, and if the horse tests positive, the state intervenes.

When outbreaks are reported, the state regulators take over and quarantine the sick animal, giving the time for the virus to stop being shed from the horse. Summers said that nationally, vets have seen many successful outcomes if the horse gets treatment and through a recovery period, but some may have clinical symptoms that persist for a period of time.

While people can't get this strain of the virus, however, people can transfer the disease through clothing or shoes that come in contact with the virus.

Isolation is typically for a period of 21 to 30 days to make sure the virus is no longer present. The quarantine is done to reduce movement, stress, and exposure on the horse.

Summers said the risk of transmission at a racetrack is greater concern over the number of horses in and out of the facility.

"That is certainly a higher risk factor based on the number of horses and how the movements at the racetrack happened, but racing itself is not a precipitating cause in my opinion," Summers said.

"Anything that causes stress to an animal with a latent infection could cause it to flare up, moving horses, putting them in new environments - we don't always just see it at racetracks, we do see it at board stables and within the private sector as well," Summers stated.

It is not known what causes some infected horses to develop the serious neurological forms associated with EHV-1 that may be fatal.

This isn't the only virus impacting horses at the facility.

Another highly contagious virus  - Strangles - closed stable gates in the last few weeks.

Strangles in an upper respiratory infection in horses that is also spread rapidly from animal to animal through nasal secretion.

Hollywood Gaming provided the following statement:

"On Thursday 2/29, an on site veterinarian observed symptoms which align with EHV-1 in one of the horses stabled at our property and immediately took samples to send out for testing. Later that afternoon, the test returned positive for EHV-1 and under the guidance of veterinary care, the effected horse was euthanized. The barn where this horse was stabled is under quarantine and we are working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to ensure the safety of other horses stabled at our track. Our racetrack remains closed to incoming or outgoing horses, effective 21 days from the confirmed positive EHV-1 test date."

As far as the Strangles outbreak in Austintown, Hollywood Gaming added:

"Barn 4 remains under quarantine, which may be lifted (pending no additional positive tests) on Wednesday March 13th."