Equine flu cases on the rise as owners are warned to be vigilant

The latest figures from the Animal Health Trust have revealed that the number of equine influenza outbreaks confirmed in June has surpassed any other month since the start of 2019.

As of 21 June, a total of 37 confirmed diagnoses had been made. February, previously the month with the highest number of outbreaks, saw a total of 35 diagnoses as the total number of cases since the start of the year has now exceeded 130.
It is thought that the higher number of positive diagnoses is due to the increased movement and mixing of horses that typically occurs during this time of year, with these horses then returning to their home yards and mixing with unvaccinated individuals.

The vast majority of the diagnoses made to date in June have been in horses who aren’t vaccinated against equine influenza.
The British Equestrian Federation has urged owners to maintain their vigilance and ensure their vaccination records are up to date. It has strongly recommended that if it has been longer than six months since the last vaccination, owners should discuss a booster with their veterinary surgeon.
It is also vital that unvaccinated horses do not mix with other equines due to the increased risk of such an infectious disease spreading. In addition, the Animal Health Trust has suggested that new or returning horses are quarantined to try to limit the spread of the disease.
In light of this, British Eventing has also reminded members about its updated vaccination policy that has been in effect across all fixtures since the start of the season.

It commented:

“We would particularly like to remind members that the most recent booster injection must have been given within the six calendar months prior to the horse arriving at the competition. The changes to vaccination requirements will be effective until further notice, and are continually monitored and reviewed based on the current Equine Flu status and advice from industry experts, including veterinarians. The new vaccination policy is enforced at all BE fixtures to ensure that organisers, officials, riders, owners or person responsible, have a clear set of rules to follow without variation between venues and events. We thank all members for their cooperation with the new rules and remind all competitors to please make sure that all horses’ passports are available for checking when collecting numbers.”

Changes to the BE Rules and Members’ Handbook can be seen below in bold

10.1 Passports



  • A valid passport and vaccination record
  • Must accompany the Horse to all Events,
  • Must be available for inspection on collection of numbers,
  • Must be produced on request at any other time during the Event.
  • Failure to comply with these requirements is a breach of this Rule and the Horse will not be allowed to compete.

10.2 Vaccinations – National Competitions

  • 

10.2.1 No Horse may take part in a BE National Event (which includes entering competition stables) unless it has a current vaccination against equine influenza which complies with the following conditions:
  • Two injections for primary vaccination, not less than 21 days and not more than 92 days apart, are required before being eligible to compete;
  • A first booster injection must be given within seven months after the second injection of primary vaccination;
  • Subsequent booster injections must be given at intervals of not more than one year, commencing after the first booster injection;
  • The most recent booster injection must have been given within the six calendar months prior to the horse arriving at the competition.

10.2.3 The Record of Vaccination(s) in the Horse’s passport must be completed by the appropriate veterinary surgeon (who is neither the Owner nor the Competitor of the Horse) in which the record of injection(s) is completed, signed and stamped line by line. 

10.2.4 No relevant injection may have been given on the day of competition. 

10.5 Horses; Soundness; Infection; Tubing; De-Sensitising

10.5.1 All horses must be sound.

10.5.2 All horses must be free from clinical signs of contagions or infectious disease. Where appropriate, in the case of Equine Influenza, strangles or neurological EHV1 outbreaks, BE, acting throughout in reliance on veterinary advice, may prevent potentially exposed horses from competing at any BE Event. Members are strongly advised to follow the Horserace Levy Board (HBLB) Codes of Practice on Equine Diseases (www.hblb.org.uk/codes.htm) with particular regard to controlling the spread of disease.

Practicalities:

  • Forgotten passport. Any horse without a passport will be sent home (plus travel companions).
  • Unvaccinated companion horse. Passports and vaccination records in accordance with the new rules must be carried for all horses on board any vehicle. Any horses without passports and compliant vaccination records will be asked to leave the site, along with any others which they may have travelled with.
  • Booster given within seven days of the Event. This is fine. As long as the vaccination was given at least the day before the horse arrives at the Event, and is not more than one year after the previous booster. (see Rule 10.2.4)
  • Only primary course given. This is fine, as long as the horse has had the first two injections that make up the primary course, and the second injection was given within the last six months.
  • Primary course given, but first booster (due within seven months) has not yet been given. Fine if second injection was less than six months ago.
  • Historical discrepancies (ref: rule 10.2.3). In cases where there are historical discrepancies (e.g. booster was given five days late in 2014), but the primary course is correct and the horse has had the most recent booster within the last six months, it will be at the discretion of the Vet and BE Steward as to whether the horse may compete.

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