Another mystery is just how many horses have actually died of VEE. Statisticians were estimating that 1,957 horses became ill from all causes during the critical period, and that 1,411 had died—again from all causes, including other illnesses, as well as accidents and old age. Nobody will ever know how many of them died from VEE, but certainly the toll was heavy. All anyone will say for sure is that the death rate has dropped sharply since Aug. 1. "I hope one thing that comes out of this emergency is a good disease-reporting system," Omohundro commented.
Nobody outside of Texas, apparently, is taking any chances that VEE might leap suddenly to a new state, or even across the Atlantic. Quarantines by racetracks across the country are still in effect for unvaccinated horses from the critical areas, and the European embargoes are as stringent as ever. In New York, Roosevelt Raceway's prestigious International Trot this month may have to be canceled because European owners, especially the French, are reluctant to send over horses and have them stranded here because of the embargoes in their own countries. "The ban will remain until it is absolutely clear there is no further danger," said one British authority. France may continue its quarantine indefinitely. In previous epizootics, some nations have kept their bans in effect for as long as two years after the last reported case.
Things are relatively calm at the Field Inn North this week. Most of the office lights have been going off around six, and Dr. Omohundro even managed a round of golf one morning. The phones still ring constantly during the days, and the Houston radio and TV stations continue to call, but they aren't getting any more lead stories. Dr. Omohundro is busy writing letters of commendation to members of the motel staff, his secretaries, just about everyone who's helped out in any way over the past month. He speaks matter-of-factly about what has been accomplished in Houston, but when someone asked him what would have happened if VEE had just been allowed to run its course, he stood up and slapped his palm to his forehead.
"Without a program there would have been utter chaos in this country's horse industry," he said. "I've been in this business 34 years, and I've never seen anything that stirred people up so emotionally as this." One of his field-men told Omohundro of an incident during this plague that summarized the tragic toll VEE has exacted from the horse owners of Texas. He had just returned from Corpus Christi, where he had talked with a girl whose horse had died. He asked her how much the horse was worth. "Do you mean how much did we pay for him," she asked, "or how much was he worth?"