Racehorses may have to be vaccinated against flu twice a year from next January, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced.
The governing body is to consult with stakeholders on plans to change the vaccination renewal period for equine flu to eight months.
Following the flu outbreak in February, the BHA reduced the vaccination renewal period for horses in training from 12 to six months but following discussions with the BHA veterinary committee, which includes experts from all parts of the racing industry, it now proposes to make eight months the new standard from 1 January 2020.
A spokesman said: “The BHA believes the range of biosecurity controls that exist in British racing ensure the eight-month standard provides an appropriate balance between risk and pragmatism.
“In the meantime, as of 1 May 2019 the existing temporary measures will be adjusted so horses presented at a racecourse will need to show they have been vaccinated against equine influenza within the last eight months, with a one-month grace period, meaning nine months for practical purposes.”
‘This is not a typical endemic period and it was essential that precautions be taken to protect the horse population‘
‘It is clear that this strain of the virus is not going away and is taking advantage of any opportunity
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The spokesman added that the current requirement for a health declaration form to be submitted on the arrival at the racecourse for each runner will not apply for British-trained runners, from licensed yards from 1 May 2019.
Hunter chasers from unlicensed yards will still have to provide the declaration as will international runners, who will also have to provide a negative result for flu from a nasal swab no more than 72 hours before their arrival in Britain.
“The BHA is grateful to the veterinary committee and the NTF and trainers for their input so far to this process,” the spokesman said.
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