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Equine Flu

Equine Flu is currently circulating in the UK with a number of outbreaks over January and February 2019. Race meetings have been cancelled until 13.02.2019 following the latest outbreaks in North Yorkshire. The latest casualty of the outbreak was Doncaster races, as vaccinated horses on a local yard were showing symptoms.

Equine Flu map 2019

Equine Flu

(Source of information – Animal Health Trust)

Equine influenza – equine flu or horse flu – is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The virus can be spread horse to horse or through contact with humans or other animals who have been in contact with an infected horse.

An infected horse will show clinical signs, similar to those of human flu, and will be infectious for about a week. Tens of thousands of horses can be affected by one outbreak. Although rarely fatal, it can have a huge impact on competition and breeding due to restriction of horse movements.

Signs of infection

Unvaccinated horses

In unvaccinated horses we tend to see certain signs. The virus targets the upper respiratory tract so signs include:

Vaccinated horses

Horses that have been regularly vaccinated may show no clinical signs, but they may still shed enough virus to infect other horses.

Horses that have been vaccinated may only have partial protection because:

They may show signs of mild non specific respiratory disease. This can include mild lethargy, nasal discharge and possibly a cough.

Equine Flu poster