Horse Races Cancelled And Stables Locked Down Over Equine Flu Outbreak
Horse races throughout the UK have been cancelled as stables have been forced to lock down amid an outbreak of equine influenza.
No horse racing has occurred since Wednesday (February 6) after it was announced that three horses at Donald McCain’s Cheshire yard had been tested positive for EI despite being vaccinated against it. Thursdays (February 7) horse races were immediately cancelled as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) worked to contain the disease.
Last week, the BHA revealed that the infected stable had horses at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday (February 6) where they were close to other horses from multiple racing stables all over the country.
Over the weekend, news emerged that a second stable, at Simon Crisford’s Newmarket yard, had been infected with the virus after four horses were tested positive for the contagious horse disease, despite being vaccinated against it.
In a statement, Crisford said: “None of the four horses that have returned positive tests for equine influenza displayed any clinical signs of respiratory illness, including nasal discharge and elevated temperatures, prior to the mandatory swabbing that was undertaken last Friday, February 8.”
Although racing has continued in Ireland, two stables in the country were sent into lockdown over fears of the disease and are currently being tested for traces of the IE.
It’s estimated that the Animal Health Trust, working with the BHA, has conducted over 1,500 tests over the weekend. While it was thought that racing would continue on Wednesday (February 13), BHA officials have planned a meeting to decide whether racing should continue or be postponed.
Equine Influenza: What Is It?
Equine influenza is incredibly contagious to horses, though it isn’t dangerous to healthy adults. However, the disease can be fatal for young foals or horses who are already ill. Symptoms of the disease include a high fever (41C), coughing, clear and runny nasal discharge, swelling of the jaw and lymph nodes and, though it’s rare, swelling of the lower limbs.
BHA has stated that the contagious disease can be transmitted by air over “reasonable distances”. The firm also stated that while humans cannot contract the disease themselves, they can transmit it to other horses if they’ve contacted an infected animal.