BVA comments on equine flu outbreaks

07 February 2019

BVA has issued an update following several confirmed cases of equine influenza since the start of 2019.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has decided to cancel all horse races today (Thursday 7 February) after three horses in an active racing yard tested positive for equine influenza (EI).  Since the beginning of the year, several cases of EI have been confirmed in counties across England, with all but one case identified in unvaccinated horses.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has advised vets and horse owners to be vigilant in case of further outbreaks.  Owners are advised to contact their vet as soon as possible if a horse is displaying any signs of EI, including a dry, harsh, hacking cough, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.  Vets can test for the disease with a nasopharyngeal swab and blood samples, which are sent for laboratory diagnosis.

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is issuing regular updates on EI outbreaks and advice for vets and horse owners.

Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: “We would urge owners to be alert to possible symptoms of EI and to contact their vet without delay if they have a suspected case.  Testing is a quick process and means that decisions can be made quickly to limit an infected horse’s movements, contain the spread of disease and mitigate against secondary complications.

"I would also advise that mixed practice vets who may not see many equine cases day to day should contact their laboratory if they are in any doubt to ensure they collect the right swab and blood tube samples for submission.

“While it is of course a concern that one of these cases has been identified in a vaccinated horse, vaccination is still advised as the best course of action for protecting against the disease and enhancing immunity across herds.

“We will continue a close dialogue with the British Equine Veterinary Association and keep members informed of developments.”

BVA Media Office