The first equine flu awareness month (EFAM) is being launched in April to raise the profile of the highly contagious disease.

The new initiative is being organised by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Merial Animal Health.

“There have been 52 recorded outbreaks of equine influenza in the past two years, and while this may sound considerable, we believe it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg,” said the AHT’s Dr Richard Newton.

The Liphook Equine Hospital, Hants, issued a warning earlier this month urging owners to watch out for signs after a case of equine flu had been confirmed in the county.

Around 30% of horses in the UK are vaccinated against the disease, well below the 70% figure required to prevent a major disease outbreak.

“Multiple small outbreaks occur every year in the UK, and major outbreaks have occurred before and may well occur again. Should it happen then equine sport will grind to a halt and the economic consequences will be potentially huge,” said Liphook Equine vet Andy Durham.

The equine influenza surveillance scheme, run by the AHT, provides free sampling to all veterinary practices registered to the service.

For more details visit: www.equinefluawareness.com

Ref: Horse and Hound, 17th March 2016