Equine virus not expected to halt Nev. rodeo

May 23 2011 - 10:57am

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Jaimie Hiskey stands in the pasture behind her home with her horse Kayne on Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Nampa, Idaho. With the recent outbreak of the Equine Herpes Virus-1 many local area riders are keeping their horses at home to prevent their horses from being exposed to this potentially deadline virus. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)
Kayne, a 20-year-old American Blazer Horse feeds on a pile of hay inside the stable at the home of owner Jaimie Hiskey on Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Nampa, Idaho. With the recent outbreak of the Equine Herpes Virus-1 many local area riders are keeping their horses at home to prevent their horses from being exposed to this potentially deadline virus. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)
Jeff Sleeman, director of the Washington Cutting Horse Association, trains one of his horses for competition, Thursday, May 19, 2011, at his home in Roy, Wash. All of Sleeman's horses are healthy, but he is taking precautions such as not allowing outside horses in his barns or pens and not taking his horses off his property after an outbreak the highly contagious disease called equine herpes virus (EHV-1). (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Jaimie Hiskey stands in the pasture behind her home with her horse Kayne on Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Nampa, Idaho. With the recent outbreak of the Equine Herpes Virus-1 many local area riders are keeping their horses at home to prevent their horses from being exposed to this potentially deadline virus. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)
Kayne, a 20-year-old American Blazer Horse feeds on a pile of hay inside the stable at the home of owner Jaimie Hiskey on Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Nampa, Idaho. With the recent outbreak of the Equine Herpes Virus-1 many local area riders are keeping their horses at home to prevent their horses from being exposed to this potentially deadline virus. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)
Jeff Sleeman, director of the Washington Cutting Horse Association, trains one of his horses for competition, Thursday, May 19, 2011, at his home in Roy, Wash. All of Sleeman's horses are healthy, but he is taking precautions such as not allowing outside horses in his barns or pens and not taking his horses off his property after an outbreak the highly contagious disease called equine herpes virus (EHV-1). (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RENO, Nev. -- Reno Rodeo officials say they expect an outbreak of a deadly and highly contagious horse virus to fully run its course before the rodeo opens June 16.

Rodeo spokesman Steve Schroeder said he was on the phone all day Friday dispelling rumors about the event, which is billed as the "Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West." The rodeo is expected to go on as scheduled, he said.

"If there's any growth in the outbreak, that's for us a telltale sign on what decision we make a week from now," Schroeder told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The virus, Equine Herpes Virus-1, has infected more than 30 horses in nine states and Canada after being traced to an Ogden, Utah, equine event earlier this month. At least seven infected horses have died.

The disease poses no threat to people but is easily spread among horses, alpacas and llamas because it can be transmitted by touch or by sharing feed, brushes, bits and other equipment.

The outbreak already has postponed the Senior Pro Rodeo in Elko, which was set to begin June 1. And two other Elko rodeos are in jeopardy: the June 6 Gold Miners Rodeo and the June 17-19 Nevada State High School Rodeo.

But with the Reno Rodeo almost a month away, "there's enough time to be relatively sure the outbreak is behind us," said Dr. Joe Coli, the rodeo's veterinarian.

Schroeder said the number of cowboys who initially signed up last week was higher than past years. He also noted rodeos were held this weekend in California, Oregon and Arizona.

The June 16-25 Reno Rodeo is billed as the fourth-richest rodeo on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour. It draws more than 140,000 people and pumps an estimated $42 million into the local economy.

 

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