A highly infectious equine virus has been identified at the National Stud in Newmarket, leading to a precautionary closure of the main stud.

The neurological herpes virus infection, that is known to cause abortion, respiratory disease and occasionally mortality in foals, was found in a maiden filly (not pictured) — who according to the stud is fully vaccinated. She was already in the stud’s Heath Isolation Unit, having arrived from overseas on 20 January.

The National Stud followed the requirements of the “Codes of Practice”, which includes maintaining isolation, movement restrictions and hygiene measures for at least 28 days. The stud’s main yard was also immediately closed and all public tours stopped.

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Managing director Brian O’Rourke is hopeful that breeding activity can resume at the start of the covering season around 15 February.

“The virus was found in the filly while she was stabled at the isolation unit, which is one mile from the main stud. All the horses that arrive from overseas go to the isolation unit for two weeks,” said Brian.

“The filly was struggling to get up in the field and we thought she may have broken her pelvis. So we bought her in and she was having problems urinating. We stopped all animals arriving and leaving the yard last Thursday (28 January). As soon as we got the results on the Saturday we stopped all public visiting as well.

“We are following the necessary procedures, everyone is wearing suits and there are foot dips — it is under control. We have tested all the other horses and it has not spread,” he added.

“As the National Stud we need to be setting the standard, and that is why we closed it straight away, as the disease can spread so easily. The isolation unit is currently in lockdown but we are hopeful that things will be back to normal for the start of the breeding season.

“The filly has been treated and is being monitored 24 hours a day. She is now urinating as normal and seems happy in herself.”