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May 3, 2012

Horse farm reopens after viral quarantine

ROCKPORT — A horse barn that was placed under quarantine by an area veterinarian to contain a virus has re-opened two weeks later, though the quarantine was expected to last anywhere from three weeks to a month.

Horses at Seaview Farm, also known in Rockport as Lane's farm, tested positive for equine coronavirus, a highly contagious disease that can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurological symptoms.

One horse died of the disease on April 13, according to the animal's owner, while another horse had died of unknown causes earlier in the week, but seemed to have similar symptoms.

The owner of the horse who died posted on a website asking other horse owners and veterinarians for their input on the situation.

Kenneth Lane, owner of Seaview Farm, a boarding stable, told the Times on Tuesday that there were no sick horses at his farm and that he had nothing to say about rumors of a quarantine. Subsequent phone calls to the farm Tuesday and Wednesday were not returned.

The veterinarian who cared for the sick horses also did not return phone calls, but in an email to those who board their horses at Seaview farm, she attempted to calm fears while maintaining caution.

"We have confirmed a diagnosis of equine coronavirus as a cause of the high fevers and associated signs. This is an unusual disease, so data is somewhat limited," Kelly Butterworth, the veterinarian, wrote.

Butterworth wrote that, while she hoped the worst of the disease was passed at the end of April, the quarantine could continue beyond that.

According to Krissie Burnham, owner of Sandy Bay Stables in Rockport, she was called by Butterworth and told to stay out of the Seaview Farm barn for a month in order to prevent the disease from spreading to the horses in her barn.

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