Equine flu: four more racing cases confirmed and one non-vaccinated horse put down

Four new cases of flu have been confirmed in vaccinated thoroughbreds, while another non-vaccinated non-thoroughbred has been put down.

The four racehorses were at the yard of Flat trainer Simon Crisford, in Newmarket, and the positive tests for equine flu were announced last night (10 February).

The yard was one of 174 asked to undergo testing, as horses trained there ran at Newcastle on 5 February, which was “identified as a potential risk fixture”.

Staff at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) have been working round the clock testing thousands of samples – processing in three days the number of tests normally handled in a year – from which no other new positive tests had been returned by last night.

But the AHT has confirmed that another horse, a non-vaccinated non-thoroughbred in Suffolk who had contracted flu has had to be put down, as its condition deteriorated.

“This shows the threat posed by the disease in unvaccinated horses and the importance of biosecurity procedures and movement restrictions to contain the possible spread of the disease,” the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said in a statement.

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“Equine influenza should not be confused with or compared to the common ‘bug’ that might impact some yards from time to time. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines, and it can be particularly serious for younger horses, which is of particular concern with the breeding season about to start.

“Trainers are required under the rules to notify the BHA should a case of equine influenza be identified or suspected in their yard.”

The BHA is due to decide this evening (11 February) whether racing can resume on Wednesday. The latest advice from the British Equestrian Federation is that other equine events do not need to be cancelled.

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