Equine Influenza Outbreak

Thursday, 7 February, 2019

Following three confirmed Equine Influenza outbreaks in vaccinated horses in a British racing yard on 6 February 2019, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has taken the decision to cancel racing at all British racecourses until Wednesday 13 February 2019. This is a precautionary measure and is a standard contingency in the event of an infectious disease within UK racing.

Horse owners are being urged to remain vigilant and should be aware of the clinical signs of Equine Influenza which include harsh, dry coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy and an increase in temperature (>38.5°C). These clinical signs may be mild and not all horses will present with all of these. If you are concerned, consult your vet as soon as possible who can take a swab and blood sample.

Equine flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the equine influenza virus. The virus is spread from horse to horse via coughing and respiratory droplets; and via indirect contact where appropriate biosecurity is not being followed. One of the most notable features of flu is the very quick spread of clinical signs in groups of horses and its ability to spread large distances in the air. Therefore horse owners are encouraged to consider their existing biosecurity arrangements in their yard. This includes ensuring they practice good general hygiene and isolating any horses showing flu-like signs.

The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket is recommending horse owners re-vaccinate their horse if their vaccination was carried out over 6 months ago, in order to maximise the chance of having protective immunity.