PEI

Government to cover cost of strangles tests for P.E.I. racehorses

The P.E.I. government will pay for standardbred horses to undergo strangles testing as the province works to contain an outbreak that has locked down Red Shores racetrack in Charlottetown.

Estimated cost of testing standardbreds for bacteria is $80,000

Barns across P.E.I., like this one in Marshfield, have been paying closer attention to biosecurity due to the two cases of strangles reported in Charlottetown in the last several months. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

The P.E.I. government will pay for standardbred horses to undergo strangles testing as the province works to contain an outbreak that has locked down Red Shores racetrack in Charlottetown. 

The stables at the track have been in lockdown with strict biosecurity measures in place since Feb. 25, after two horses were confirmed to have clinical signs of the highly contagious respiratory disease.

An advisory committee made up of veterinarians, industry and government officials has advised that there be no racing at the Charlottetown location until all horses provide two negative tests for Streptococcus equi, the bacteria that causes strangles.

The nasopharyngeal culture test program is expected to cost $80,000.

"These funds will allow more horses to be tested, alleviate the financial burden on Island stables and horse people, and help us to reopen harness racing at Red Shores and tracks across the Island safely," Finance Minister Darlene Compton said in a news release Tuesday.

Initial testing has been completed on all horses stabled at Red Shores, and veterinarians will be offering testing services at rural stables and matinee tracks.

"Horse owners should contact their veterinarians to schedule testing for their horses," the province's news release said. "Veterinarian clinics will submit the paperwork for testing directly to the PEI Harness Racing Industry Association to administer the funding and pay for the testing." 

The industry hopes that with these measures in place, P.E.I. tracks can resume racing when the regular season starts in May.

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