The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), alongside the National Trainers Federation (NTF), has issued a notice to licensed racehorse trainers that an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) in the form of equine neurological disease has been confirmed by Rossdales Laboratories in a licensed training yard in the north of England.
The BHA is working with the trainer, his staff and veterinary surgeon to ensure that the correct disease control measures are in place. These measures include increased biosecurity, further testing and a quarantine stop on the premises. Two further yards have also been quarantined as a precaution due to the close proximity of the yards and the sharing of horseboxes. No diagnosed cases have been identified at either yard, but the temporary measure has been put in place in the interests of risk control.
Equine herpes virus is a common virus that occurs in horse populations worldwide. The two most common strains are EHV-1 and EHV-4. Both strains can cause respiratory disease, particularly in the younger population, but will also cause abortion in broodmares and EHV-1 can also cause un-coordination, paralysis and death. This is known as EHV-1 Paralytic/neurological Form. In all suspected cases, your vet should be contacted immediately.
David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said: "Outbreaks of the neurological form of EHV-1 are occasional and, while the disease can be extremely serious for the affected horses, with proper surveillance and disease control the virus can usually be effectively contained. While the risk of the virus being transmitted in a controlled raceday environment is relatively small, it is in theory possible that horses from the yard in question may have been infectious some time before the disease was diagnosed. For this reason we have taken measures to alert trainers, as well as racecourses and veterinary surgeons, to be vigilant to the clinical signs. The decision to close the further yards is based on the identification of risk factors, namely the proximity of yards and the sharing of horse boxes. These measures have been taken as a precaution, with the safety of the horse population very much in mind."
All potentially affected parties are being advised to refer to the NTF Code of Practice for Infectious Diseases of Racehorses in Training and the recently launched Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) ‘EquiBioSafe’ app* for guidance on surveillance for the disease and steps to take, should any symptoms or risks be identified. These steps include immediately contacting David Sykes on 07917 424224 and ensuring that the horse is not moved from the premises. Further information about EHV is available here.
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