There is currently an outbreak of Equine Influenza in the UK, which has caused the cancellation of all horse racing today (Thursday 7th February). Equine Influenza is a common respiratory disease – the unusual thing about this outbreak is that it involves vaccinated horses. This may be because the strain of flu that is circulating is slightly different to the more common strains, or it may be that the affected horses hadn’t been vaccinated recently and their immunity to flu had dropped.
What is Equine Influenza?
Equine Influenza is a virus which causes respiratory disease in horses. The clinical signs include coughing, lethargy, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and a high temperature (over 38.5°C). It can be spread by direct contact between horses, through air-borne droplets when horses cough, or by indirect transfer on hands, clothes, and equipment.
What should I do?
Here’s how to reduce the risk of your horse being affected: –
1.Check when your horse was last vaccinated – if not done in the past 6 months, contact us to discuss a booster vaccination. Our vaccines protect against the strains of flu virus most commonly found at the moment. We are discounting all flu and flu/tetanus vaccinations given between Monday 11th February and the end of March by 10%.
2.Monitor for symptoms – view the video below demonstrating how to take your horse’s temperature safely.
3.Avoid sharing water troughs, buckets, grooming kit, haynets and other equipment, especially at gatherings of horses such as shows, rallies, fun rides and hunt meets.
4.Try to avoid contact with horses other than your own. If you have to handle several horses, wash your hands and use an alcohol hand gel between horses.
5.Isolate any new arrivals on a yard for at least 2 weeks. Flu symptoms can take up to 2 weeks to develop after exposure; other infectious diseases can take up to 5 weeks before signs develop.
6.If you have any questions about biosecurity measures such as these, or have any concerns about your horse’s health, please speak to one of our dedicated Equine Vets on 01608 730085
It is essential that any horses showing signs of possible equine flu, or horses that might have been in contact with possibly infected horses, do not travel to competitions or other events where there will be groups of horses. If your horse has been in contact with an infected horse we suggest that you should take immediate veterinary advice.