Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Medical | By

What is equine flu and how does it affect horses?

What is equine flu and how does it affect horses?

The East Lothian fixture featured eight races with £160,000 in prize money and a huge crowd was expected to attend until the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) imposed the ban.

The British Horseracing Authority released a statement on Wednesday, revealing a stable affected with equine flu had runners at Ayr and Ludlow earlier that day.

Bosses at Dunstall Park announced the move to abandon the Saturday evening meeting as the probe into the outbreak was being investigated today.

Racing was called off at four venues on Thursday - Ffos Las, Huntingdon, Doncaster and Chelmsford - after three horses from Donald McCain's yard in Cheshire tested positive for the disease.

Horses from the infected stable, which has not been named, raced on Wednesday at Ayr and Ludlow, which raised the possibility that a number of horses in their vicinity could have been exposed to the highly-contagious infection.

Australia suffered an outbreak of equine influenza during 2007, which halted thoroughbred racing nationwide on August 25.

No further positive tests have been recorded, but another three days are needed before it will be possible to make a decision on whether it is safe to resume racing as the disease can take that long to show its symptoms.

Hose races have been cancelled all over Britain because it's come out that three horses in an active yard have been diagnosed with equine influenza.

"The BHA has worked quickly to identify which yards could potentially have been exposed today and to identify the further actions required".

In a statement, the BHA said: "This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday".

The BHA conceded "the full extent of potential exposure is unknown" but is working as fast as possible to gather information about any potential spread of the outbreak.

"We are scrupulous about observing the health status of horses in our care and taking the necessary steps to treat any condition that may affect them".

So what exactly is equine influenza, and why has it got so many people in the horse racing industry so anxious?

It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in United Kingdom equines and disease symptoms in non-immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge. Extremely. It is most commonly spread via nose-to-nose contact between horses but can also be passed on through human contact and has been known to be windborne over distances of up to 8km.

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