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Thu 7th Feb 2019

Equine Influenza

Outbreak of Equine Influenza in British horse racing

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has cancelled racing at all British racecourses today, Thursday 7 February, following the Animal Health Trust’s notification of three confirmed Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard. The fact that the cases have been identified in vaccinated horses presents a cause for significant concern over the potential spread of the disease and the action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease.

Equine Influenza is a highly infectious disease for horses, mules and donkeys occurring globally, caused by strains of the Influenza A virus. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines and disease symptoms in non-immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.
The outbreak at the infected yard follows the identification of a number of Equine Influenza cases across Europe and the UK, including several in vaccinated horses. Following the recent outbreaks, guidance was sent to trainers to inform them that all horses who have not had a vaccination against Equine Influenza within the last six months should receive a booster vaccination, and that all horse owners should be extra-vigilant with biosecurity. This outbreak could have serious consequences for polo, so for further information on biosecurity and pony welfare visit the HPA website here.
Equine Influenza can be highly contagious and – unlike other infectious diseases – can be airborne over reasonable distances as well as transmitted indirectly, including via people. There are no known consequences for humans associated with exposure to the disease.
Further information is posted on the Animal Health Trust website here.
Photograph: Three cases of Equine Influenza have been reported, causing the cancellation of all racing across the UK today. Courtesy of the HPA

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