Warning to horse owners after UK outbreak of equine flu

A NORTH Yorkshire veterinary practice has issued a warning to horse owners following an outbreak of equine influenza.

Minster Veterinary Equine Clinic in York is urging owners to ensure their horses or ponies are vaccinated after outbreaks of equine flu, with four reported cases in the UK since January 2 in unvaccinated horses.

The British horse racing industry is on red alert over the outbreak because of the concern at how quickly the airborne infection can spread, making it hard to contain.

Symptoms include nasal discharge, a dry cough, high temperature, loss of appetite and generally feeling unwell.

Vaccinated horses can also contract equine flu, but symptoms are transient and much less serious.

The four cases so far have occurred in Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Essex.

To help tackle the outbreak, Minster Equine Clinic, which has practices in Poppleton in York and Galphay, Ripon, has introduced an offer for owners who have lapsed in their vaccination regime. When restarting their programme, horses require three separate vaccinations and Minster is offering the second one for free.

Minster Equine Clinic clinical director Gemma Dransfield said: “Horses that are not vaccinated are at serious risk if they come into direct contact with a horse suffering from the condition.

“However, there is also an indirect risk. Many owners say they don’t have their horse vaccinated because they don’t take it away to shows or competition, but if a horse shares a stable yard with other horses that are taken away, then there is a risk.

“The condition is airborne and can travel up to 50 metres and horses with underlying condition like immune problems or respiratory issues are more susceptible.

“We don’t want to panic people, but owners should protect their horses by vaccinating against flu, keeping vaccinations up to date and ensuring their horses have their annual booster. Racehorse trainers are being advised to give a twice-yearly booster.”

Minster Equine Clinic is urging owners to contact their vet if they suspect their horse is suffering from flu or there is a suspected outbreak on their yard.

Mrs Dransfield added: “Making a quick diagnosis helps to ensure the best care can be given to a horse and that the correct preventative biosecurity measures can be put in place to stop the spread of the virus.”

For media enquiries, please contact Amanda Little, VetPartners Senior PR and Communications Manager, on 07970 198 492 or email amanda.little@vetpartners.co.uk

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