Equine Influenza Outbreak
The British Horseracing Authority has made the decision to resume racing following the recent outbreak of equine flu which has led to a six-day racing shutdown, with 23 race meetings being cancelled. This decision does not mean that risk of equine flu has completely diminished and horse owners are still being urged to be vigilant.
Equine Influenza is a highly contagious viral disease of the respiratory tract. It spreads rapidly between horses that don’t have antibodies to protect them. It can have serious health implications for unvaccinated horses or those that are older or vulnerable.
The signs of equine flu are as follows:
- A very high temperature of 39-41C (103-106F)
- A frequent harsh, dry cough
- A clear, watery nasal discharge
- Enlarged glands under the lower jaw
- Clear discharge from the eyes and redness around eyes
- Loss of appetite
The strain of equine flu causing this outbreak is “Florida Clade 1”. Horses in the UK are vaccinated against this strain. However, The British Equestrian Federation has reported that only 40% of horses in the UK are vaccinated. Horses should be vaccinated annually and this is crucial. Even vaccinated horses have been affected although the vaccines are reducing the severity of clinical signs and shortening the period for which the horse is unwell.
A booster is also being recommended by vets if your horse is currently vaccinated but it has been longer than 6 months since the last vaccination.
It is strongly recommended, at this stage, that your horses are not taken to any yard where there are reported cases of equine flu and, furthermore, suggest that you check with the venue that they have a strict policy that visiting or kept horses are vaccinated