Equine flu jabs for all BEF members?

  • A British Riding Clubs-organised conference has recommended that the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) should persuade all member bodies to apply Jockey Club rules on equine influenza vaccination. In a one-day Influenza Conference, held at the BEF’s headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, delegates from all the major equestrian organisations discussed the current rules on flu vaccination in the UK.

    The Jockey Club rules dictate that all member horses are vaccinated. After the initial equine influenza vaccination has been administered, a second must be applied within 21 to 92 days followed by third after 150 to 215 days. Thereafter, vaccinations must be administered annually with the last permissible day being the same date as the previous year’s vaccination. Owners and trainers are legally responsible to ensure that the horse’s vaccination records comply with the Jockey Club Regulations.

    Richard Newton, of the Animal Health Trust, said: “Vaccination is a very useful prevention strategy. Some people are complacent about the disease, but if you drop vaccination, you suffer the consequences.”

    Flu epidemics can be “plotted like a map” around stable yards, according to British Riding Clubs Chairman Laurie Punnett, who chaired the conference. “All member bodies should be enforcing at least Jockey Club level of vaccinations,” he continued.

    At present British Dressage and TREC do not impose flu vaccination rules on member horses. The British Show Jumping Association does enforce Jockey Club rules but certificates are not required to be shown at competitions. British Eventing also enforces Jockey Club rules and carries out spot checks at competitions. British Riding Clubs require vaccination certificates to be produced at official (area and national) competitions, but are considering applying it to all levels of competition.

    As the meeting concluded, delegates agreed to propose that the BEF council enforces the Jockey Club vaccination rules across all member bodies. “It is the first time such a meeting has been held between scientists, vets and the equestrian organisations and it was very successful.” said Punnett.

    The Jockey Club annual vaccination rule was seen by delegates as preferable to the latest FEI vaccination rules, whereby six-monthly booster vaccinations are required for horses competing at international level. “We are reluctant to introduce another injection for our members’ horses without there being a good reason for it,” Punnett maintained afterwards, “The meeting did not recommend adoption of six-monthly booster injections for domestic competition.”

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