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21/06/10 A second outbreak of Equine Influenza has been confirmed in Somerset. We are aware that there is a lot of concern regarding Equine Influenza at the moment. A case had previously been confirmed in Somerset on 08/02/19. For the latest information as to confirmed incidences of Flu please follow this link to The Animal Health Trust who are collating the data regarding the current outbreak.

Information regarding the current outbreak is evolving quickly, so please follow our Facebook page for updates. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide guidance should there be any change in the protocols detailed below.

 As per BEF guidelines we are recommending giving booster vaccinations for Flu to all equines that have not had a booster in the last 6 months.

 Unfortunately there is no perfect vaccine available for the current strain of Flu. The aim of vaccination is for the horse to develop cross (reaction) immunity which will reduce the severity of symptoms, and the quantity of virus the horse sheds into the environment should it become infected.

 Equine influenza is a highly contagious virus and spreads through the air over long distances. The best way to reduce the risk of your horse getting Flu is to eliminate, as far as possible, contact with other horses; particularly mixing with unfamiliar groups as occurs at shows / clinics etc. and to ensure a booster vaccination has been given in the last 6 months.

Initial Symptoms of Flu

  •  High temperature
  •  Horse appearing off-colour or quiet
  •  Possibly off its food

 Symptoms to expect within a couple of days  

  •  Snotty nasal discharge
  •  Cough
  •  Swollen glands

 If you have concerns please call to speak to a vet.

There are three simple and inexpensive things every horse owner can do to help reduce the risk to their horse

  1. Take your horse’s temperature regularly and know what is normal. Any raise in temperature means extra care needs to be taken and if this persists for more than a day, call your vet
  2. Make sure that all horses that are new on the yard are kept away from other horses for ten days. 
  3. In the meantime, we recommend a booster vaccination if it has been longer than 6 months since your horse’s last vaccination.

 The more people that vaccinate their horses, the less likely it will be that we will all be affected by disease. At least 70% of horses need to be vaccinated for all our horses to be properly protected, this applies even if your horses don’t go anywhere.

A normal healthy horse would have the following set of vital signs:

  • Temperature 36.5-38.5C 97.7-101.3F
  • Breathing rate 8-20 breaths/min
  • Heart rate 25-45 beats/min

If there is any variation from this please contact our vets who will be able to give you advice.

What else can I do to protect my horse?

Consider your biosecurity, here are twenty top things to consider

  1. Isolate new arrivals for a period of 10 days or introduce horses from properties with a known high health status only. Isolate and pay particular attention to horses from sales/competition complexes, from unknown mixed population properties and those that have used commercial horse transport servicing mixed populations.
  2. Verify the vaccine status of new arrivals.
  3. Keep records of horse movements so that contacts can be traced in the event of a disease outbreak.
  4. Regularly clean and disinfect stables between different horses and also clean and disinfect equipment and horse transport between journeys. Remember to remove as much organic material as possible before disinfection.
  5. Maintain good perimeter security for your premises and maintain controlled access for vehicles and visitors.
  6. Ensure that everyone understands the hygiene principles. This includes visitors and service providers such as veterinarians, farriers and physiotherapists.
  7. Eliminate the use of communal water sources. Instruct staff not to lower the hose into the water when filling water buckets.
  8. Horse specific equipment (feed and water buckets, head collars etc.) should be clearly marked as belonging to an individual horse and only be used on that horse.
  9. Any shared equipment (lead ropes, bits/bridles, twitches, thermometers, grooming kits etc.) should be cleaned of organic debris and disinfected between horses.
  10. Equipment that cannot be properly disinfected (like sponges or brushes) should not be shared between horses.
  11. Cloth items such as stable rubbers, towels, bandages etc. should be laundered and thoroughly dried between each use. Disinfectant may have to be used as part of the rinse cycle.
  12. Isolate horses at the first sign of sickness until an infectious or contagious disease has been ruled out.
  13. Do not move sick horses except for isolation, veterinary treatment or under veterinary supervision. Attend to sick horses last (i.e., feed, water and treat) or use separate staff.
  14. Provide hand washing facilities and hand disinfection gel for everyone handling horses, even apparently well horses. Provide separate protective clothing and footwear for those handling and treating sick horses.
  15. The isolation/quarantine unit should have a changing area for staff so that clothing and footwear worn in the restricted area are not worn elsewhere.
  16. Barrier clothing, waterproof footwear and disposable gloves should be used when working with sick and in-contact horses and after use they should be disposed of or laundered and disinfected.
  17. When using disinfectants, always follow the instructions on the label. Select a disinfectant that is approved by your national veterinary authority (or equivalent official organisation) and chose a disinfectant that has documented effectiveness in the presence of 10% organic matter. The disinfectant chosen should also work in the water hardness of the locale and be safe to use around horses and people. Your local agricultural store should be able to help you with this.
  18. Stables, feed mangers and yards/paddocks should be kept clean, free of standing water and thoroughly scrubbed and cleansed with an appropriate detergent / disinfectant after use and then allowed to dry.
  19. Take care when using pressure washers as those set at greater than 120psi can produce aerosols that spread infectious agents through the air.
  20. Contact your veterinary surgeon if any of your horses show clinical signs of sickness, or if you are concerned and would like advice.

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