Diseases that will cause concern for horses during the Olympics

  • As equestrian sport goes global, equine health threats also rise as horses cross international borders for competitions such as the London Olympic Games.

    Equine influenza, along with other infections that are already present in the UK such as strangles and equine herpes virus, remain the major infectious concerns for horses here. Exotic diseases are less of a risk, but include:

  • EQUINE INFLUENZA: recent outbreak in northern France. Since the outbreak in Australia in 2007, horses returning down under have to be quarantined at their final destination for 14 days
  • AFRICAN HORSE SICKNESS: confirmed cases in southern Africa in 2011. Stringent safeguards are in place to prevent spread here
  • EQUINE INFECTIOUS ANAEMIA (SWAMP FEVER): carried by biting insects or anything contaminated with infected blood such as dirty syringes. First case in Britain in 30 years linked to imported Romanian horses in 2010 but controlled and eliminated. Reported in Eastern Europe, France, Germany and Italy. No threat to humans but fatal
    to horses
  • EQUINE VIRAL ARTERITIS (EVA): outbreaks in France in 2007 and 2011 and elsewhere in Europe. Cases reported in UK in Staffordshire and West Sussex in 2010
  • RABIES: UK, Australia and much of Western Europe free of the disease which is fatal to humans and horses. There were 6,155 cases reported in USA in 2010 but only 37 (0.6%) were in horses and donkeys
  • VIRAL ENCEPHALOMYELITIS: several forms affect horses as well as people. One form, West Nile Virus, has not been confirmed in UK but is present in Europe and USA. Spread by biting insects
  • PIROPLASMOSIS: the USA, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, UK, Ireland, Northern Europe, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and Australia are not considered endemic areas for this tick-transmitted disease, but vigilance is maintained
  • GLANDERS: highly contagious and affects humans and horses. Still endemic in various part of the world including Middle East, Asia and South America. Has been recorded in United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain
  • CONTAGIOUS EQUINE METRITIS: bacterial venereal infection linked to infertility and a serious risk to equine breeding industry. One incident recorded this year in Gloucestershire
  • DOURINE: another venereal disease. Outbreak recorded in Italy in 2011

    To read the full feature on disease control during the Olympics see the current issue of H&H (19 July 2012)

    Read all the latest Olympic news

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