Equine Influenza

Equine Influenza: Update 9 am, Wednesday 20th February​

The Hunting Office remains in contact with the BEF High Health Steering Group and others.

The advice on hunting remains as per the previous update on 12th February.  However, Hunts should remind members to be vigilant.  It is clear from the BEF update (click here) that Equine Influenza has spread and that there are confirmed outbreaks in a number of areas where there are unvaccinated non-thoroughbreds. 

Hunting Office update: 9 am, 12th February 2019

The BHA has announced the resumption of racing on Wednesday within ‘a risk framework’. This includes restrictions in areas where equine influenza has been diagnosed, strict biosecurity measures and that all runners must have been vaccinated against equine influenza in the last 6 months.

Veterinary advice is clear that horses that are vaccinated suffer less if infected and are less likely to spread the disease. Responsible owners will make sure that all vaccinations are up to date. If it has been longer than six months since the last vaccination, it is recommended that owners discuss a booster with their veterinary surgeon.

Advice regarding hunting remains the same. Hunting was not suspended and that remains the case. However, Hunts should take into account local issues, and where they are uncertain seek local veterinary advice on the biosecurity measures applicable to their country or parts of it.   

Hunts should reaffirm the importance of subscribers and visitors taking responsibility for their horses’ health and that of others.


Hunting Office Update: 3pm, 11 February 2019

The Hunting Office has sought further veterinary opinion today and spoken with the members of the BEF High Health Steering Group and others. The veterinary advice remains the same:  hunting is not suspended at this time, but Hunts should take into account local issues, and local veterinary advice on the disease status concerning their country or parts of it.  

UK Equine Influenza Outbreak information is available through the Animal Health Trust: https://www.aht.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Equiflunet-update-10-02-19.pdf

Hunting in areas where an outbreak has taken place or where there are training yards, studs and large equestrian facilities would be unwise.  

The BHA will provide a decision regarding racing on Wednesday around 10.30pm tonight. The COBRA Committee of the High Health Steering Group will also issue further advice later today. The Hunting Office will continue to regularly review the situation.

In the meantime all owners are urged to be vigilant and follow recommended guidelines. Useful links with information about Equine Influenza include

The Animal Health Trust: https://www.aht.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/What-to-do-with-equine-flu.pdf and

The British Equestrian Federation Q&A. https://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Equine-Influenza-QandA-10-02-19-1.pdf 

Equine Influenza Update: 10am, 8th February 2019

We continue to liaise closely with the BEF High Health Steering Group. Veterinary experts have advised that it is not necessary to cancel other equine events at this time and, whilst the  Hunting Office is not advising a blanket ban on hunting, Hunts should consider the situation in their locality. Where there are training yards in the area it may be sensible not to hunt this weekend and await the further announcements from the BHA and Veterinary Groups next week which may alter our advice. Equally there will be packs operating in remote areas well away from any racing or other equestrian establishments that are able to Hunt.

Particular advice for foot packs:  There have been a number of cases where canines have caught equine influenza having been in close contact with infected horses (further dog to dog transmission is extremely unlikely). Thus, there is a risk – though extremely low - of hounds in foot packs catching the infection.  However, it is possible for dogs – and humans -  to carry the infection to other areas if they come into close contact with the infection. Thus, the advice to foot packs and mounted packs is the same: to consider the situation locally and,  if you intend to hunt in an area close to equine training establishments, to liaise with the owners of the establishments and others in the area before the meet, in order to make a sensible decision with regard to hunting.

The situation remains fluid. Advice may alter. Further updates will be sent by email and posted on the Hunting Office website.


Equine Influenza: 10am 7th February 2019

The British Horseracing Authority yesterday took the decision to cancel racing at all British racecourses today Thursday 7th February. This is following the BHA being informed last night, by the Animal Health Trust, of three confirmed Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard. Horses from the infected yard raced at Ludlow and Ayr yesterday.

The BHA is presently communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and bio-security measures are put in place and horse movements restricted to avoid possible further spread of the disease.

The Hunting Office will speak with the Animal Health Trust today and other members of the BEF High Health Steering Group, of which it is a member. A coordinated approach to this outbreak is required.

We are not advising Hunts to cancel hunting at this stage but ask Hunts to urge vigilance among their members and their followers with the following general advice from The Animal Health Trust:

  • Think about getting horses flu booster vaccinated, especially if they are between 6 and 12 months since their last booster. Owners own vets can advise on this.
  • Don’t take animals that are sick and coughing out mixing with other horses as this can transmit virus and make animals more sick if they are already infected or are incubating infection e.g. if they have been in contact with a recently sick horse.
  • Call the vet to examine any sick and coughing horses and think about flu as the possible cause of these signs.
  • Vaccinated horses can get flu and although may have milder signs they can still transmit virus.
  • The vet can take advantage of the AHT’s flu surveillance initiative in which the HBLB will fund lab testing for flu - details are on the AHT website, including information for owners and vets - see http://www.equiflunet.org.uk/ but noting that we are about to launch a new AHT website and so there may be some difficulty accessing in the next 24 hours, but should be OK after that.
  • Remember that equine flu can infect hounds and so any sick hounds should be investigated with this in mind - AHT remains happy and interested to assist with any such investigations, including post-mortem examinations of any fatal cases.

Further advice will be issued as soon as we know more.

7th February 2019 - 9.30 am

Click here to read an update from British Horse Racing Authority