Equine Influenza: The Latest

Contrary to common belief, this outbreak of Equine Influenza does not seem to have gone away. So far UK laboratories have confirmed over 160 cases since January, with over 60 new cases in June alone.

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The increased number of cases reported is thought to be due to the increased movement and mixing of horses attending various competitions at this time of year.

These recent cases are part of the ongoing outbreak from January 2019 that caused the British Racing Authority (BHA) to cancel racing across the UK on 7th February 2019 for the first time in 18 years.

Vaccination Is The Key To Prevention

Equine flu is still proving difficult to control, especially when young naive, unvaccinated horses are transported and mixed together, e.g. at shows or sales. Regular vaccination is key to the prevention and control of outbreaks of equine influenza and is compulsory under British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules in the UK.

The current vaccination rules vary between different equestrian regulatory bodies but generally speaking the regulations are:

  • 1st vaccine
  • 2nd vaccine (21 – 92 days after the first)
  • 3rd vaccine (150 – 215 days after the second)
  • Followed by annual vaccinations

Previously in order to compete, horses generally required booster vaccinations not more than 365 days from their last vaccination. However, many regulatory bodies and show committees are now insisting on more regular vaccinations

As before, horses must not have been vaccinated less than seven days before a competition. However, many competition horses (and certainly those competing under FEI, BE, BS and BD) must have received a booster vaccination not more than six months prior to competition.

BEF Recommendations

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) continues to closely monitor the equine flu outbreak, urging all owners to ensure their horse’s vaccination records are up to date to help prevent the spread of equine flu.

The BEF strongly recommends that if it has been more than six months since the last vaccination, that owners discuss a booster with their vet.

It is also urging all competition and training event organisers to check the passports of all horses attending their event to ensure that they comply with vaccination rules (including primary vaccination course).

The BEF urges owners to remember the increased risk of spread of the disease when mixing unvaccinated horses with other equines, especially those recently imported from abroad. As before it is vital that all owners be vigilant for the symptoms of equine flu and to alert their vet if they think their horses are showing signs.

Equine Flu – What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of equine flu include, (but are not limited to):

  • A dry, harsh cough
  • Feeling lethargic or depressed
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge

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