Four horses have now been put down in an outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV).
Two more have shown signs of the disease, and are “undergoing supportive care” in a vet hospital’s isolation unit, while another two have shown respiratory signs but appear to be recovering.
Vets believe the disease is currently contained within one livery yard, on the border of north Hertfordshire and south Bedfordshire.
“Understandably there is considerable concern amongst horse owners,” said a statement from Rossdales veterinary practice.
“The yard owner and all the liveries, who have been devastated by this unforeseen event, have been careful to follow our guidance with regard to biosecurity.
“The yard has remained closed and in quarantine since the confirmed diagnosis (eight hours after the first signs were reported).
“Sadly four horses have now been euthanised due the neurological presentation of EHV and our thoughts are with their owners at this difficult time.”
Rossdales urged owners to be vigilant.
“This outbreak serves to remind us only too clearly of the threat of disease and the possible consequences,” the practice added.
“Sensible biosecurity precautions at shows and training clinics should always be followed. Do not let your horse have unnecessary contact with others, do not share water buckets and do not graze away from home.”
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The practice said there is currently no need for owners to cancel plans to compete, but Stevenage and District Riding Club cancelled a dressage show due to run yesterday (6 November), as it felt it was “no longer responsible to run it”.
“Thank you for your understanding. Our thoughts are with all those who are affected by this outbreak, and we urge everyone else to stay safe,” a statement from the club said.
Under Horserace Betting Levy Board rules, any yard at which there is an EHV outbreak must remain closed for 28 days from the date the last case was identified.