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.
Coronavirus generally strikes cows, dogs and humans, with varyingly severe effects. The only other outbreak of equine coronavirus in the United States took place in California, and the doctor managing that outbreak is helping to manage this one, according to the email from Butterworth.
The source of the outbreak in Rockport is unknown.
"The vets told the barn manager not to send the horse he was selling to a registered quarter horse auction. Thank God he didn't send him, because about three days later that horse had a fever," wrote Wendy Prendergast, who owned the horse who died, named Aesop.
Burnham said that, when she heard about the outbreak, she volunteered to do non-barn chores to help the workers at Seaview Farm, but was told her help was not needed.
Burnham said she was surprised when she saw that Seaview Farm had reopened, saying she would expect more caution.
"People in the horse community should know about this," said Burnham.
Stephanie Bergman can contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org