Saturday, February 09, 2019

UK BHA: Update On Equine Influenza Outbreak

BHA Press Office Twitter Feed


Two days ago the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) ordered All Horse Racing Halted After Equine Flu Was Reported In 3 Vaccinated Horses.  Since then, there have been reports at 3 additional horses have tested positive, and the ban on horse racing has been extended until at least the middle of next week. 
Today's update provides us more information about the particular strain of the equine H3N8 virus detected - which unexpectedly turns out to be Florida Clade 1 - which is endemic to North and South America, but not Europe.
Some excerpts from today's BHA update, starting with a statement from their Veterinary Committee on the virus:
Confirmation has also been received that the strain of the virus is the “Florida Clade 1” strain, which is endemic to North and South America, and is different from Clade 2 strain that is endemic to Europe.
British horses are vaccinated against both Clade 1 and Clade 2, but this is clearly more virulent than the European strain and therefore able to affect vaccinated horses, though the vaccine will provide some protection. The Animal Health Trust provides more detailed information:
5,000 swabs have been dispatched around the country to facilitate further testing and the BHA’s team of Equine Welfare Integrity Officers are assisting in the delivery and collection of samples.
174 licensed yards that had runners of fixtures at Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Ayr and Ludlow last week remain on hold while testing continues, with movement of people and horses restricted and biosecurity measures in place.
Follow the link below to read the entire update:

Daily update regarding equine influenza situation
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s response to the equine influenza situation remains ongoing, in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust (AHT), National Trainers Federation (NTF), numerous individual trainers and the wider racing industry.

The BHA is continuing to follow its process of assessment, analysis and containment of the highly infectious equine influenza virus, ahead of a decision being made on Monday about the programme of upcoming race-meetings.
Latest Information

The AHT has informed the BHA that it has received approximately 2,100 nasal swabs and tested and reported on 720. So far, other than the six at the yard of Donald McCain already identified, there have been no further positive samples returned.

This includes the swabs taken from horses at the yard of Rebecca Menzies. One horse – which tested negative – had previously been identified as suspicious and high risk after testing at a different laboratory. All these horses will remain under close surveillance, analysis of tests from the yard is ongoing and testing of the suspicious horses will be repeated.

Wider analysis is continuing with thousands more swabs expected to be received and tested over the coming days.

Responding to an equine influenza outbreak

The objective of the decision to suspend racing was to control the outbreak and ensure that racing can safely recommence as soon as possible. There is still more testing to carry out in the coming 48 hours before it is possible to say whether or not the spread has been contained. Even then, horses in those yards will continue to be closely observed. The initial incubation period for the disease may not have passed for many of the potentially exposed.

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses and is different from a common ‘bug’ that might impact some yards from time to time. Racing’s key priority is the welfare of our horses at all times, but there are three key reasons that lay behind the decision to respond as the industry has;

  • It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines and disease symptoms in non–immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.
  • It can be particularly serious for younger horses, which is of particular concern with the breeding season about to start.
The industry goes to great lengths and expense to vaccinate our population and impose controls to attempt to prevent the disease from affecting our horses. Running a sick horse is not good for its welfare.

The decision to suspend racing was made on expert scientific advice and agreed unanimously by the sport’s cross-industry veterinary committee and supported by the Animal Health Trust, National Trainers Federation and UK Government.

(Continue . . . . )

For some past blogs on Equine Influenza, you may wish to revisit:

Equine H3N8: Looking At A long-shot In The Pandemic Sweepstakes

Epizootics, Host Ranges, and Conventional Wisdom

EID Journal: Equine H3N8 In Mongolian Bactrian Camel

Morens and Taubenberger: A New Look At The Panzootic Of 1872

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