Show stands by decision not to insist on flu vaccinations

A Welsh show is standing by its decision not to insist horses attending its competition are vaccinated against equine flu – as fresh outbreaks continue to be confirmed.

The society of the Pontardulais show, which takes place on 26 August at the show park in Pontardulais, Swansea, announced in May that owners are advised to vaccinate against flu – but said it was not obligatory.

In a statement on 26 May the society said: “After careful consideration, the society advises that owners of all equines other than foals under six months old, taking part in the show have all entries properly vaccinated against equine influenza.

“However this is not obligatory. Animals that are not vaccinated may also be entered and compete. No passports will be checked for up to date vaccination.

“We do ask that you ensure that your horses are fit and well prior to departure to the show and do not compete if they are showing any signs of equine influenza in order that this is not passed on to other competitor’s animals.”

On 1 August the society announced it would be standing by its original decision.

“Following discussion at last night’s committee meeting, the committee decided to abide by the decision made at May’s meeting,” said the statement.

“This was not a decision made by the secretary or by any individual member of the committee. It was a decision made by the committee present at the meeting.”

Chairman of the Pontardulais show society Trevor Thomas told H&H yesterday (7 August) the committee “did not feel it was necessary” to enforce vaccinations.

“We have left it up to the owners to make the decision whether they come to the show or not,” he said.

“The secretary spoke to the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and we were told it was up to the discretion of our committee and we have decided to go ahead as advertised in the beginning.”

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The society’s announcement on social media has received a mixed reaction with many people calling the decision “irresponsible” and “shocking”, saying they will not be attending as a result.

Latest figures show 219 outbreaks of equine flu have been confirmed, three in the first week of August. One outbreak in Neath Port Talbot on 1 August is around 15 miles from Pontardulais.

A spokesman for the AHT told H&H their advice remains the same; owners should remain vigilant and show organisers are encouraged to make vaccination mandatory.

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