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‘We must pull together’ to beat equine flu as outbreak roars on unabated

The equine flu outbreak shows no sign of abating – and the number of cases is likely to rise as the competition season continues, experts have warned.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is continuing to confirm cases of the virus, with 21 so far diagnosed this month, following 12 in April. Last week, 15 cases were confirmed, the second-highest number in one week since the start of this year.

The AHT is urging horse owners to continue to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions to minimise the spread of the virus.

“As the competition season is getting into its busiest period the number of outbreaks is likely to continue to rise with the movement of horses across the country,” said AHT director of epidemiology and disease surveillance Richard Newton.

“Flu is still as much of a threat as it was earlier this year.

“Our advice to horse owners remains the same; be aware of the clinical signs of equine influenza and boost your horse’s vaccination if it was given more than six months ago. Importantly, isolate new arrivals on your yard and continue to practise good biosecurity at competitions and at home”.

The equine flu virus relies on transmission to new horses to survive, and clinical signs can spread very fast in groups of horses. It can also travel long distances in the air.

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Dr Newton said: “We are still urging all competition and event organisers to support vaccination within six months in order to maximise the chance of horses’ having protective immunity. 

“If all parts of the equestrian community pull together we stand a much better chance of containing these outbreaks which show no sign of abating.”

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